- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 7, 2003

The following are excerpts of a sermon yesterday by the Rev. Greg Zetts at King of the Nations Christian Fellowship in Rockville.

God always pursues what is valuable to Him. Acts 10:38 talks about Jesus having been empowered by God the Father to “go about doing good and healing all those who were under the power of the devil.”

The Gospels are full of examples of Jesus healing and setting people free that were valuable and precious to Him. And we know from our own lives that He still does this today. One shining example in Scripture of this type of ministry that brought healing is the story of Mary Magdalene.

We find from her story that Mary Magdalene is pictured as one who was delivered from the devil in order to be devoted to Jesus. In fact, she is mentioned more times in the Gospel accounts than any other woman, with the exception of Mary the mother of Jesus. Tradition says that this woman was a prostitute, and while there is no direct scriptural reference to support that, we do know that she is described in Luke 8:2 as having been delivered from “seven devils.”

We learn first of all that Mary had a history. I have learned in ministry over the last 20 years that behind every heart there is a history, a human story that reveals the effects of not knowing the love and mercy of the Heavenly Father. We were created to know His love and presence, but like Mary, we are impacted by our desires and decisions.

As Woody Allen said, “The heart wants what it wants.” Acting on these desires can sometimes lead to consequences that can produce shame and guilt. This can cause us to concede power over our lives to the devil, creating a need for healing. One day Jesus, who came to live among the spiritually dead, encountered this woman, ministered the Father’s heart to her, and set her free. We don’t know exactly what her issues were, but the word says, “She was delivered.” We all have some area in our lives where we can experience healing in this way.

The lesson I have learned personally over the years is that Jesus is safe. He comes in the power of the Holy Spirit and reveals where we are and what we truly need. Over 22 years ago, like Mary, I was bound and lost in my sin and rebellion. While I was addicted to alcohol and drugs and looking for love in all the wrong places, God pursued me. He heard my cry, came to my rescue and delivered me. There was a point in time when God showed me that I was lost and I needed him. I believe that Mary cried out and God heard her cry and set her free.

I meet people all the time who are crying out for deliverance and salvation. Like Mary, they know there is more to this life than the temporal pleasures of this world. Today, if you don’t know Him, open your heart to His holy love — cry out and He will come to you. Mary was set free from the effects of living a life that was separated from God. She trusted Him and opened her heart and her life was never the same again.

Are you free today? Do you know the very purpose of your creation? So many when asked what their purpose is in this life can’t answer. “Well, I do this, or I have that and I have been there,” but there is little understanding of why they were fearfully and wonderfully made.

Mary became a demonstration of how to live free from the past and enter into the purpose of her life. The Gospels show that from the day she was set free she began to follow Jesus, declaring that he was her Lord. In fact, she is there at the cross — where she watched her Lord suffer and die. She is there at the garden tomb, where she is the first one to greet the risen Lord and is given a commission to go and tell the disciples that Jesus is risen. Also, she walked with others who followed Jesus — this speaks of His church.

The church is not so much a building (that is where the church meets), but a “community” of people who have been touched by God’s love through the power of the cross of Christ. Today, Jesus is still setting people free who are tormented and bound. He is transforming them into lovers of God and He is empowering them with his Holy Spirit to be a blessing to the nations.

Lord, I thank You that You value us enough to want to heal us. Help us to see where You want to bring freedom in our hearts.

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