This is a sermon delivered to the boys at Teen Challenge. Teen Challenge is a home for troubled boys in NW Arkansas. Most are there because of court order. Most of these boys suffer from addictions and have been in serious trouble. Teen Challenge offers a Christ based way for these boys to turn their lives around. I currently speak at Teen Challenge once a month.
Why are you here? Seriously, why are you here? Some of you know why. Some of you have discovered the answer to this question since you have been here and some of you think you know but you really don't. Some of you still think you are here to be punished but you are really here to be set free.
The world has lied to you. The world has told you that there is freedom in smoking pot or stealing or whatever it might be that you take pleasure in. That your parent's have no clue what you are all about or who you really even are. That these guy's are all against you and all you want form TC is to be out. I believed those same sorts of lies for most of my life.
Gal 4:8 (NLT)
Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist.
I know that most of you probably won't think that what I am about to tell you is true but I promise you that it is. Pot is a god, coke is a god, sex is a god, meth is a god and they don't do anything for you but to make you a slave to them.
You wouldn't be here right now if you weren't a slave to whatever it was that caused you to be here. You wouldn't be here right now unless you were imprisoned by those things that you worship.
A man named Paul wrote those words in Galatians. Paul was one of the most hated men in the world if you were an early Christian. Paul was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of that day. When Jesus came He turned their world up side down.
What Jesus taught was that there was a new thing and He was that new thing. The Pharisees knew that if Jesus convinced the people that He was the Savior then their way of life would be over. Paul's job was to destroy Christianity.
He had standing orders to kill any Christian and I promise you he did a great job of it. But something happened to Paul along the way. Paul met Jesus. As it did for all of us that have met Him, He changed our lives forever.
Paul went from being the most feared man to being God's most used man. Paul wrote most of the New Testament. Paul was thrown in prison and beaten on many occasions for proclaiming the name of Jesus where ever he went. Let's look at one of those.
Acts 16:22-31 (NLT)
22A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn't escape. 24So he took no chances but put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
25Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26Suddenly, there was a great earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! 27The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28But Paul shouted to him, "Don't do it! We are all here!"
29Trembling with fear, the jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down before Paul and Silas. 30He brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
31They replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with your entire household."
Paul and Silas were going around telling anyone that would listen about Jesus. That got them thrown out of about every town they went to and into prison on a few occasions. What I want you to understand here is what happened to Paul didn't cause him to be a prisoner.
He was stripped naked and beaten and this was not just a few whacks. He was beaten within a inch of his life. He was thrown into the dungeon and locked in stocks but in verse 25 it says that Paul and Silas were praying and singing. How can that be? When we look at what happened to them we would think that they would be in a miserable state but they prayed and sang.
Once Jesus comes inside of you, there are no prisons. There are no beatings. There is nothing that can cause you to be a prisoner. There are no other gods. Jesus is God. Once Jesus is in you then the things of this world fade away.
I was a prisoner of addiction for 20 years. It took over my life. The voices in my head just kept telling me that I had to have it. I had to. That being high would set me free from the things that I could not deal with. Parents that treated me badly. So called friends that stabbed me in the back. People always telling me that I wasn't good enough. I know some if not most of you hear those same voices but God sent me here tonite to tell you that is a lie.
Gal 5:1 (MSG)
1Christ has set us free to live a free life.
Christ came here to set you free just like He did me. I know some of you hate this place. Your not the first to think that and you won't be the last but here you have an opportunity to turn your life around. God has laid before you an open door and an invitation to come to Him and to see what real life is all about.
There is nothing in the world that can possibly equal what God has for you. The drugs, the stealing, the lying, the cheating, the sex will never get you what or where you really want to be. Only Christ can do that. God made you to be His child. He made you to live free no matter if you were in prison like Paul and Silas. You don't think that's possible but those boys on the back row are a testament to exactly that.
Freedom has nothing to do with where you are. I has everything to do with who you are. When you have Christ inside of you, you will never be anything but free.
Gal 5:1 (MSG)
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.
Christ spoke these words in Luke...
Luke 4:17-20 (NIV)
17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Christ has the power to set you free. No one and nothing else does. No one!!!