Summary: If you want to break free from the sinful habits and attitudes that keep you from soaring, listen to God and believe Him when He tells you, "I am setting you free!"

Kung Fu Panda is the story of a flabby, out-of-shape panda bear named Po who longs to learn the ancient art of Kung Fu. Amazingly, Po is selected by the village leaders to become the Dragon Warrior – the greatest Kung Fu master of all time. But in spite of his new status, Po is still a lumbering klutz. This reality is a source of constant consternation to Master Shifu, who has been charged with transforming a nobody into the greatest Kung Fu warrior that ever lived. The situation gets even more complicated when Shifu and Po learn that Tai Lung – the most fearsome villain in all of China – has escaped his prison and is coming to destroy the new Dragon Warrior. Take a look as Po tries to sneak away from his training after learning that Tai Lung is coming after him. (show video: Kung Fu Panda – Shifu Confronts Po Sneaking Away)

Master Shifu pops out of nowhere to block Po's way. “You cannot leave! A real warrior never quits!”

“Watch me!” says Po, trying to run past his master. Shifu blocks him again.

“Come on,” Po whines. “How am I supposed to beat Tai Lung? I can't even beat you to the stairs!”

“You will beat him because you are the Dragon Warrior,” Shifu answers.

“You don't believe that,” Po counters. “You never believed that! From the first moment I got here, you've been trying to get rid of me.”

“Yes, I was,” Shifu admits. “But now I ask you to trust in your master, as I have come to trust in mine.”

“You're not my master. And I am not the Dragon Warrior.”

“Then why didn't you quit?” Shifu asks. “You knew I was trying to get rid of you, yet you stayed.”

“I stayed because every time you threw a brick at my head or said I smelled, it hurt,” Po says. “But it could never hurt more than it did every day of my life just being me. I stayed because I thought if anyone could change me – if anyone could make me not me – it was you, the greatest Kung Fu teacher in all of China.”

“But I can change you!” Shifu protests. “I can turn you into the Dragon Warrior, and I will!”

“Come on,” Po says. “Tai Lung is on his way here right now. And even if it takes him a hundred years to get here, how are you going to change this” – Po picks up his belly and lets it fall back down with a bounce – “into the Dragon Warrior?”

Shifu is silent.

“Huh?” Po asks. “How?”

“I don't know!” Shifu blurts out. Then, more quietly, “I don't know.”

“That's what I thought,” Po says. Then he walks away. (Kung Fu Panda, DreamWorks Animation, 2008, directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson, scene 14, 00:48:08 – 00:50:14)

As believers in Christ, God has called us “saints” and “overcomers”, but some of us wonder: can God really change me into what He has called me to be? Can God ever transform me into something useful? I’m stuck; can I ever break free to be all that God wants me to be?

Well the wonderful answer to that question is “Yes! Absolutely Yes!” But there is something YOU must do, in cooperation with God’s Holy Spirit, to break free from the habits and attitudes that keep you grounded. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Galatians 1, Galatians 1, which tells us what to do to break free to be all that God has called us to be.

Galatians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia… (ESV)

Paul begins this book by identifying himself as the author, but he is no ordinary author. He is an apostle – one who has been sent by God Himself. No man sent Paul to speak to us today. No man authorized Paul to say what He had to say in this book.

I stand before you today, primarily because in September, 2012, you invited me to candidate as your next pastor, and a week later you graciously extended a call for me to come. Oh, I have no doubt that God Himself called me to preach here, but that call came through human agency. It came through many of YOU. If you would not have called me to be your pastor, I would not be here this morning.

Well, that’s NOT the way it is with the Apostle Paul. He is sent directly by God, the Father, through God, the Son. There is no human agency involved at all. No man authorized Paul to say what He had to say, no! He gets his authority directly from God Himself.

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