Wednesday, August 9, 2023

The Sound of Freedom: God's command to love and protect Children

The hit film “The Sound of Freedom” has grossed over 150 million dollars at the box office, hitting on the key issue of human trafficking occurring at massive levels across the world.

How should Christians treat children? That is a key point found in our scripture today. The Bible tells us that children should be protected, blessed, encouraged, brought up in the Lord, taught right and wrong, and many other key points.

The world often treats children the worst of all groups. Long ago babies were thrown into the fires as sacrifices to pagan gods. Or children were used for child labor. Today, children are the latest battleground in the culture wars going on in the United States.

Will children be taught biblical values or gender ideology? What is right and wrong? How will we explain it to our children?

We should be very careful what we teach our children. Because the word says that God loves the little children. And it also says, that if you cause a little child to stumble into sin, well, it won’t end well for you.

The movie the sound of freedom shines the light on human trafficking. Hollywood didn’t want this movie published. It was criticized by the news media. 99% of Hollywood movie reviewers refused to even review it. Most that did simply slandered the film as garbage.

It’s important to remember just how corrupt our world is, how political everything has become, when even a film exposing child trafficking is blacked out by the corrupt news media establishment.

We should be very skeptical in what we trust when reading the news, or listening to the latest philosophies of the world, and we should trust the word of God above anything else.

Sometimes we do the opposite. We trust whatever the tv says, and we doubt the word of God. Instead, we should trust God’s word, and doubt the world.

Today, we find Jesus on a long walk talking with his closest friends, the disciples. And Jesus is again explaining the big picture to them. He’s telling them the future. I love when God whispers to me about the future. It’s very exciting. God does that. The Spirit does that. He did it with the apostle Paul numerous times in the book of acts. He did it with John in the book of Revelation.

Jesus is telling them what will happen to him soon.

He says, in Mark 9:30-32:30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.”

God explains the end from the beginning, as it says in Isaiah 46:10, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”

It’s always fun to go for a walk with a friend and talk about deep stuff. I always enjoyed that with a friend of mine named Kyle. We would walk and talk for hours at night.

Apparently the conversation continued on the road as they came from Galilee to Capernaum. The conversation apparently turned to “whose the best?”

It says in verses 33-35: They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Remind me of a conversation between me and two of my cousins Travis and Ben when we were about 10. “Whose dad is the best?” My dad, no my dad, no my dad’s the best! Pretty silly stuff.

The Lord Jesus reminds them about how the kingdom of God system works: If you want to be the most honorable and most powerful in heaven, after you die, that’s cool, here’s what you do: Serve everyone around you on Earth. Meet their needs. Provide food for them. Teach them. Give them a ride somewhere. Be a servant to all. Then you’ll be great in heaven. If you’re focused on being served here on Earth, you’ll be one of the poorest in heaven.

Next we see Jesus talking briefly about children. He uses a child as an example. It says in verses 36-37:

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Jesus takes a child in his arms. Just that moment in itself is very beautiful to me. Jesus holding this child saying how important the child is, is so wonderful. That’s my savior! I think to myself.

Jesus also says, that if anyone welcomes him, it’s the same as welcoming the Father in heaven himself. That is the truth. Jesus represents God the Father to us perfectly.

Next, in verses 38-41:

38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”

Here we get an interesting little moment here between Jesus and John. They noticed someone they didn’t recognize as part of their group of disciples doing God’s work.

It’s a reminder for me that other Christians from other churches, if they are indeed Spirit filled, genuine believers, are my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I shouldn’t try to compete with them, or stop them, or ignore them. I should treat them kindly, and care for their needs, along with the brothers and sisters in our little church as well. We’re all working together to serve God and serve people.

In verse 42 we see a scripture that was actually quote in the movie The Sound of Freedom. It says this, “42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”

The Bible is clear that we need to be careful how we treat children. It says it this way in Matthew 18:10, ““See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

So we saw the positive command to welcome the children. Now we see the negative command, don’t cause children to stumble. Or else, essentially.

Suppose you tell a child there is no god. You’re causing that child to stumble already. Suppose you tell a child something against the Bible, again, you’re causing them to stumble. Suppose you sell a child into human trafficking, well, what could be worse?

Jesus gives us the picture of a millstone, used to grind wheat grain into flour, giant, heavy stone, to be tied to your neck and thrown into an ocean. That’s the picture of how terrible the punishment is for someone who mistreats children. It’s horrible beyond words.

Next, we see in Mark 9:43-48 one of the most challenging scriptures in the entire Bible.

Jesus is challenging his disciples to understand just how serious sin is. Sin is the reason Jesus had to die on the cross. For our sins. To pay the penalty for them. And jesus tells his disciples how vital it is that they repent of their sins, and put their faith in Him.

He says this, “43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [44] [b] 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [46] [c] 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’

The Lord essentially says we should go to extreme measures to make sure no sin is active in our lives. Taken serious action to make sure it’s gone. I always draw back to the example of an alcoholic caught in the sin of drunkenness. They’ve become so addicted to the sin, they often need to attend 12 step support groups weekly, to overcome that sin, and find victory. They go to that extreme of weekly groups, working the 12 steps to be free from that addiction. Any sin in your life, take that same level of action to defeat it. It’s vitally important. It’s better to cut your hand off than to go on sinning with your hand. That’s how Jesus puts it in this scripture. Sin is deadly, we must put it to death before it destroys us. And when we have the Holy Spirit within us, we can certainly do that.

We also get this description of what hell is like, two descriptors, one, there are worms in hell that eat through your body, and they never die. Secondly, there is fire constantly in hell that never ceases to burn. Two permanent realities of hell are these torments of worms in the body and fire in the flesh. Quite troubling and disturbing, but a good reminder of the sinfulness of sin. Sin is truly terrible and is dealt with severely by God. And so we should deal with it severely in our own lives. That’s wisdom. And it’s convicting I’m sure. Praise the Lord, let it be so.

Now verse 49 is particularly interesting to me. It says, “49 Everyone will be salted with fire.”

It’s a mysterious statement. But if you think about it, you add salt to a particular food you’re preparing to make it taste better. It brings out the flavor.

Jesus I think is saying that we as Christians are “salted” with “fire” because we go through “fiery trials” that test our faith, and this “salts us.” It molds us and shapes us into Christlikeness. It brings out our flavor. We become more and more loving, kind, faithful, gentle, and true followers of Jesus. We are salted by the fire of the trials we go through, and these trials make us more and more sancitifed, more and more faithful, mature believers in Jesus. Salted.

Then in verse 50, “ “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

So we become properly salted through our trials, salt is good, but have you seen believers who kind of lose their saltiness? They drift off, stop reading the word, stop praying, and pretty soon they’ve lost their saltiness. They just kind of drift back into the ways of the world. So we should have salt among us as believers, encouraging one another, at peace with one another, discipling each other in the word, so that we don’t lose our saltiness, but we’re constantly growing in saltiness.

Amen, so in conclusion today, let’s consider practical applications. Seven key take aways:

1. God will sometimes speak the future to us (Watch for his fingerprints on your life)

2. If you want to be great in heaven, serve everyone here on Earth (Servant mindset)

3. Have a kindness and regard for children in your life (Children matter to God)

4. See Christians from other churches as fellow coworkers in God’s Kingdom harvest (We’re all working together to serve Jesus)

5. Be careful not to cause little ones to stumble

6. Take radical action to be free from sins in your life

7. Allow God to “salt you” through the fiery trials you face (And have a mindset of discipleship among believers)

Today we saw a lot of wise teachings from the words of Jesus. Take these teachings as the guidebook for how to live your life successfully. Apply the words of scripture to your life. Otherwise we’re just wasting our time. Unless we’re really living it. And I see us here living the word of God. Let’s continue to grow in that, and live it more fully day by day.

We had a wonderful week of Vacation Bible School, and I call on your to pray for the little ones we taught the word of God to, that they would know Jesus, and follow Him. Take some time to do that right now.

Their names were: Aron, Garrett, Tallie, Lexy, Zander, Robbie, Celeste, Sage, James, Chloe, Mckenna, Kristin, Jubilee, Brooks, Zaine, Zyler, and Zayden.