The refreshment of being spoken in the beginning
as waters were separated from waters
Of guiding a rudderless ark on the vastness of the ocean
and a rudderless people through two seas and on to freedom
The warm waters of his birth and the obedient waters of his baptism
He knows the feel of spittle on his hands
while making mud so a blind man may see
and the feel of spittle on his face from those who mock him
Only a short time before,
Jesus talks with a man seeking answers in the night Be born again of water and the Spirit
Only a short time before,
Jesus talks with a cast down woman at a public well Drink the water I give you and never thirst again
Now, Jesus cries out in the midst of the festival Let anyone who is thirsty come to me
Let the one who believes in me drink
Streams of living water will flow from within you
Soon he pours himself out for the world… I thirst
I thirst for you
because you cannot drink the bitter cup I must drink
I thirst for you
because I desire that none should be lost I thirst for you
so that you may drink of me, the living water
I become in you and all who believe a spring of water gushing up to eternal life
Holy Jesus, my Lord and my God,
I thirst for____________
I drink deeply so that ____________
Finish the sentence again and again…
Leave your prayer below
Based on John 8:31-38
Freedom in Christ
Come Mighty Savior!
Wield your truth
Release the captives
Come Mighty Savior!
Shatter the bonds of
Fear and Sin
Shame and Injustice
Falsehood and Death
Come Mighty Savior!
We long for your deliverance
Take our strongholds and give us freedom
Take our numbers and give us names
Take our sentences and give us life
If you make us free
We are free indeed
For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.
Opening Activity: Turn to your neighbors and show them what excited is by just using your face. Show them peace. Show them freedom. To show freedom we have to use our whole body and our voice. Is anyone free enough and brave enough to show us freedom?
Click Here for the sign for freedom in American Sign Language
Three Types of Freedom
1. Freedom = Freedom From
When we think about the founding of our country, we think about freedom from constraint. Freedom from: Oppression, Coercion, Tyranny, Harassment, Bullying, Prejudice, Abuse
2. Freedom = Freedom To
If we have Freedom From, that leads us to Freedom To. Freedom To: Worship, Vote, Speak, Work, Travel, Learn, Own things (including property/business), Raise a family according to my values, Rest and Relax. Freedom To is about access to opportunity- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
3. Freedom = Freedom For
living the kind of life I was made to live
becoming the person I was meant to be
my true self to come out
living for something bigger than just myself and what I want
the common good
living into the Kingdom of Heaven
This kind of freedom, Freedom For, is the freedom found in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only One who can provide this freedom. The Good News is that this freedom is available to all people, no matter if you have the first two freedoms or not.
The story of Pastora Yolanda in Cuba. She does not experience much of the first two freedoms, but she does experience Freedom For. The truth of Jesus has set her free.
The three United Methodist Missionaries being detained in the Phillippines have Freedom For, freedom in Christ. Nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” – John 8:31-33, NRSV
Most of the early followers of Jesus Jewish. Jesus himself was Jewish. Jesus is the Savior of the World and the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews. Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament promises, prophesies, and covenants which were mostly about what it means to be truly free and what it means to truly live.
The Jewish believers respond, “What do you mean freedom? We’ve never been slaves to anyone.” I’m thinking, What?? Where were you in history class?
Slaves in Egypt under the rule of Pharaoh
God led them to freedom and established them in a promised land. It’s remembered every year at the Passover celebration.
Later invaded and conquered, Babylonian Captivity
Jerusalem destroyed, the best and brightest taken into exile as slaves and allowed to return to rebuild Jerusalem after 70 years
As their saying this to Jesus, they’re under Roman occupation and oppression
Maybe they meant they weren’t literally slaves bound to a master. Slavery was an everyday reality of the ancient world.
We can think the same thing, “I’m an American. I live in America. I’ve never been a slave to anyone.”
We are still suffering from the legacy of slavery in our country and the reality that there are modern-day slaves. Slavery has not been abolished.
Slavery is alive and well in Florida. We have many ports. There are kidnapping and human trafficking groups supplying slaves for labor (agricultural especially), personal and domestic care, and sexual exploitation.
Slavery still exists. It exists in the literal sense and in the sense that we experience it in things like fear.
Have you ever been held captive to your fear? Held captive to falsehood?
Have you ever been in the chains of peer pressure or prejudice or addition?
In the bondage of poverty, or disease including mental illness, lack of education, lack of opportunity?
Have you ever been treated like property rather than a human being?
Jesus is talking about slavery and Jesus is talking about freedom. It is Big Picture. Jesus speaks in layers. It is literal and it is deep and it is wide. We must be careful in saying, “I’ve never been a slave.”
Jesus said you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. If the truth will make us free, then what will enslave us?
Falsehood is slavery
Lies, Sin, Spin, Misinformation is slavery
If you have a false understanding of God, have you found freedom in God? If you have a false understanding of freedom have you found freedom?
False idea: Freedom from external constraints and freedom to do whatever I want will give me true freedom.
How many times have we been sold that? Real freedom is nobody being able to tell me what to do. “You’re not the boss of me. You’re not my mom.” (Freedom From)
How many times have we been sold the lie that true freedom is the ability to have anything I want and to do anything I want, with whoever I want, whenever I want, and there will be no consequences? Some have even labeled that success.
Is this freedom? Is this real? Is this true?
No, it’s false. It’s incomplete. It’s twisting freedom into something freedom was never meant to be. It is actually backward. Freedom in Christ (Freedom For) empowers us to help with all the other freeing that needs to happen in our world and in our lives (Freedom From and Freedom To). Freedom in Christ first.
If we think freedom is about self-interest and self-determination above all else it’s not freedom. How many times have we seen this lie blow up a life, or blow up a family, or blow up a business? We’re seeing it blow up our nation.
A false understanding of freedom isn’t freedom, it’s slavery. Let’s see what Jesus says.
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:31-36, NRSV
True Freedom = Freedom For, Freedom in Christ
How are we freed?
Acknowledging we are slaves to sin and death and a whole bunch of other things and that we cannot save ourselves
There is a Savior! We are freed by saying, “I am saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus offers salvation to me. Jesus is my liberator. Jesus is my Deliverer. Jesus is my Lord. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. Even though I may not know what I’m doing, even though I’m not perfect at it, Jesus help me. Save me.” I’m in need of saving. There is a Savior. I place my trust in the Savior.
Then we are more and more free as we continue in the words and ways of Jesus
We learn and live the truth
We follow Jesus in sharing this Good News so others may be freed. Freed from sin and oppression and injustice. We join Jesus in working for the common good.
This is freedom. It is offered to each and every one of us. It is offered to you. You will know the Truth and the Truth will make you free and the One to know is Jesus.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
Message: Jesus, The Light of the World Scriptures: John 3:16-21; John 8:12 I’m catching up on some 2017 sermons which haven’t been posted. This is message 2 of 6 in a Lenten sermon series entitled I AM Jesus. It was offered 3/12/17 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.
What is your favorite kind of light?
Sunlight, Moonlight, Firelight, Fireflies
Candlelight, Christmas Lights, Spotlight, Nightlight
Light is a primal, universal experience
And one of the most important themes of the Bible
Look at the way the Bible begins in Genesis: “The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep . . . Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light” (1:2-3). The first thing God spoke into existence was light.
Go to the book of Revelation, to the description of the new heaven and earth: “There will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light” (22:5).
Many of the OT prophecies of a coming Messiah use the image of light: “Arise, shine; for your light has come” (Isa. 60:1). “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isa. 9:2).
The Bible constantly affirms that when God comes on the scene, there is light.
God makes staying in darkness a choice.
How? By coming as Jesus
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Jesus said these words in Jerusalem while attending Sukkot, often called the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. Passover is celebrated in the Spring to commemorate God freeing the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Sukkot is celebrated in the Fall to commemorate God leading the people through the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
The opening night of Sukkot was a huge celebration. People would sing and dance until morning. The first evening began with The Grand Illumination. Giant torches lined the courtyard of the temple burning so brightly it lit up all of Jerusalem. Imagine this at a time with no electricity!
It’s reasonable, even likely, it was at this moment Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Jesus is saying, “Place your trust in me, I will be your pillar of fire leading you through the darkness of the wilderness… I will lead you to the Promised Land. I will lead you home.”
Staying in darkness is a choice. What have you chosen? Have you said, “yes” to Jesus?
Have you placed your trust in his light and direction to lead you now and to lead you home?
1. Sometimes our dark wilderness is circumstance beyond our control
We cannot see the path. We freeze, afraid we’ll fall off the edge or into a pit. Jesus, I choose your light- lead me and guide me now and always
It’s like having a flashlight in the deepest night. We trust Jesus for the next step, the next step, and the one after that. Jesus promises he will lead us step by step to a blessed end.
2. Sometimes our dark wilderness is a result of our own actions
Jesus is the light of the world and the light of life. Because Jesus loves us, Jesus shines a light on our sin, all those things we want to keep in the dark. It can be painful to see it. It can be painful to acknowledge our need for forgiveness and healing and salvation.
My friends, it’s hard, but it’s good. It’s grace. Claim it as an “ah-ha” moment of hope. It’s Christ working within us so we may have the light of life. We are not been abandoned. We are not condemned. We are not beyond grace.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
Staying in darkness is a choice. Come into the light.
Washing Windows Illustration
A teenager went to visit his grandmother one summer. While there, she asked him to wash the windows of her old Victorian home. She gave him instructions in the morning and said she’d be back to check on him in the afternoon. He laughed to himself- This job won’t take that long. So he washed the windows. They looked great and he spent the rest of the morning playing video games on his phone.
The afternoon came and the grandmother pulled back the curtains to see how he’d done. The windows were full of streaks and the corners were full of dirt. The young man was shocked. In the morning everything looked fine. What happened? Nothing happened. The afternoon sunlight revealed more truth than the morning light.
The grandmother did not condemn her grandson. She loved him and helped him to clean what he could now see.
Staying in darkness is a choice. Come into the light.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.