Releasing the Shackles
Sermon shared by Rita Sims
Summary: Jesus wants us to be free from the shackles that may be binding us.
Denomination: United Methodist
Audience: General adults
The last person in this story who is imprisoned is the jailer. He is imprisoned by fear and insecurity. He knows that whatever sentence any of the prisoners has will be his sentence if any of them escapes. He evidently doesnít want to suffer that punishment, because he nearly commits suicide. Not only that, I canít helpb but think that this man has insecurity that is already there, that he is so quick to want to take his life under this circumstance. Here is where we see the greatest freeing, in this manís life. This jailer may have been one of the ones who beat Paul and Silas and perhaps other prisoners. He, no doubt, has heard about Paul and Silasí preaching and the healing of the slave girl. He, no doubt, has heard them singing and praying and has probably marvelled at their calm. He, no doubt, is literally and emotionally shaken by the earthquake. He, no doubt, is touched by Paul and Silasí concern about his well-being. After Paul cries out to him, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here," he falls down before Paul and Silas, takes them outside and asks, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Now, whether he is talking about eternal salvation or his life being spared, itís not clear. But we do know that Paul uses it as an opportunity to speak to him about his faith. The time is ripe for the man. He doesnít want to be in bondage any more, he wants to be made free and whole. He is baptized along with his household. One reason we know he has truly been made free is through his actions. He washes Paul and Silasí wounds. He brings them into his house. He sets food before them. He is a changed man. He is freed from his fear, insecurity and guilt.
What are the things that imprison us?
Fear or what others think, like the jailer or the magistrates
Fear that we wonít have enough money, like the owners
Fear of the future, like the jailer
Fear or people who are different than us, like the magistrates and the owners
Insanity--Psychologists have said, "No one is completely mentally healthy and no one is completely mentally ill." Do we live in denial, out of touch with reality so to speak with our personal problems, family problems, church problems? Like the proverbial elephant in the living room, everybody knows itís there, canít believe itís there, but nobody does anything about it or says anything about it.
Other peopleís insanity or irritating ways or circumstances--Do we allow them to ruin our day like Paul and Silas with the slave girl?
Irritating others and trying to make other peopleís lives miserable like the slave girl, the owners, the magistrates
Traditions and prejudices like the magistrates and owners--the 7 last words of the church are, "We never did it that way before." Are we prejudiced because someone is tall, short, young, old, man, woman, white, black, have an accent?
Wrongdoing or sin, like the prisoners and owners--What negative force in our lives do we need to give over to God to root out?
Harry Houdini, the famed escape artist issued a challenge wherever he went. He could be locked in any jail cell in the country, he claimed, and set himself free quickly and easily. Always he kep his promise, but one time something went wrong. Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; the heavy, metal doors
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