RECAP: I AM based on John 8:31-59
When our nation was founded, democracy emerged as the way to rule. The colonists were frustrated with taxation without representation and viewed King George III as a tyrant. Our nation would be a representative government, where every individual would have a voice. But over time, our nation forgot its commitment to listening to the people and instead turned toward political parties. Even George Washington, in his Farewell Address, warned of the dangers of political parties, that it would remove the voice of the people and replace it with power and special interests. Today, when a person is elected, they take it as a mandate for their party. Our nation has forgotten who they serve.
This is a common human problem. We start out with good intentions, but in time we forget why we are doing what we are doing in the first place. And so we replace the original intent with our own understanding, which is sometimes diametrically opposed to the original! Israel was no exception; they started as a nation called out by God, but over time, instead of devotion to God, they were more focused on their heritage, temple, and what it meant to be a Jew instead of a follower of God. And so when the prophets and eventually Jesus came, trying to call the people back to faithfulness to God, they were all persecuted or killed.
This week’s text is the strongest of the controversy passages of John. By the end of this text, the people have picked up stones to stone Jesus! Yet, if we know who we serve and are faithful to whom we serve, we would not be offended; rather, our lives would be ordered by it. What did Jesus want to remind the people that he was? Who is Jesus? And what does that mean for our living?
1) I AM the forgiver of sins. Jesus’ mission was to deliver people from their sins. We cannot overcome our sin on our own. We as humans try by good works, or going to church, or compare our sins to others to make ourselves feel better. But the only one who can cover sins is Jesus Christ. He died for sins and declared us free because he paid the penalty with his own life. That means sin no longer has power over us; if we have been set free by Jesus, we are free. We don’t have to remain in the bondage of our past. However, this does not mean that we are free TO sin or live however we want; nor does it mean we can update sin in our own way to declare things are no longer sin. Jesus paved the way for salvation.
2) I AM the Son of God. Jesus was the beloved Son in whom the Father was well-pleased (John 3:17). Because Jesus was the Son, he carried all the weight and authority. What Jesus declares is so and cannot be revoked. If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed (John 8:36). What Jesus has declared us to be, that is who we are in his sight. But do we live comfortably under Jesus’ authority? Do we recognize him as one with all authority, or do we treat him as powerless? Or do we commonize Jesus, making him like the Elf on the Shelf, something that we acknowledge is there to serve as a reminder of whether we are going to heaven or not?
3) I AM the exposer of lies. Jesus is the truth. Darkness and lies hate the truth like a black widow spider hates being exposed. Jesus called out the people, saying their allegiance was to Satan, not to God! If they were faithful to God, they would recognize Jesus; but the fact they wanted to silence him showed their true motive and heart. Jesus is a threat to all falsehoods in our lives and brings freedom through the truth. Satan pushes us to take an alternate reality or live a watered-down gospel, or to compromise our values for the sake of keeping the peace. But do we recognize the falsehood? Like a banker knows the counterfeit because they are so familiar with the real, we should be so familiar with the Word that anything that is counterfeit we would quickly recognize.
4) I AM the eternal one. Jesus’ promise is eternal life for all who believe and are faithful. He can promise this because he is God, existing beyond time and space. At the end of the day, Jesus is the one thing we have that will endure. Everything else will pass away. Do we strive for that which endures?
5) I AM the I AM. Jesus identified himself as the great I AM, revealed to Moses in the burning bush, to Pharoah through the plagues and the Red Sea, and to Israel at Mount Sinai. And with that identification means he is the Holy One, the name above all names, the one whom everything answers to, and the one who will be for his people. Unfortunately, the people had forgotten whom they served, and instead of embrace, they were ready to stone Jesus for blasphemy.
Jesus is the I AM. If we truly believe that he is, if we hold fast to his teaching, keep the truth and be his disciple, we will see Jesus work in our lives. But if we follow the human pattern and forget who Jesus really is, we will create a construct that is incompatible and push him away. What will we do with Jesus? Will we embrace him, or push him away and settle for a watered-down gospel?
Questions for Reflection
1) In what ways do you see a watered-down gospel in our nation?
2) How powerful is Jesus in your life and your eyes? What adjustments need to be made?
3) How familiar are you with the truth of God’s Word? Can you recognize the counterfeit?
4) What are you afraid that Jesus would expose in your heart?
This Sunday, Pastor Ryan will continue the “I AM JESUS” series with the sermon titled, “Light of the World,” based on John 8:12, 9:5, and 12:34-46. Jesus identified himself as the light of the world. What does it mean, and how should it deepen our faith? Come or tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for February 1 – 7
February 1: Joshua 10:1-15 How did God provide lasting light for Israel?
February 2: Esther 9:18-32 How did the Feast of Lights (Purim) point to salvation?
February 3: Psalm 119:105-112 How did God’s Word our light?
February 4: Ephesians 4:17-32 How do we live as children of light?
February 5: Revelation 22:1-14 How is Jesus the everlasting light?
February 6: Matthew 5:13-16 Why do we need to let our light shine for Jesus?
February 7: Matthew 10:5-33 How do we let our light shine for Jesus?
This Week’s Events:
Wednesday, February 2–Worship Meeting @ 7:30 pm
Saturday, February 5–Spaghetti Fundraiser for the Whitmore Family @ AMVETS, North Liberty Street, Harrisonburg, beginning at 5 pm
Sunday, February 6–Council Meeting @ 12 pm
Sunday, February 6–Bible Study Begins @ 5:15 pm
Tuesday, February 15–Leadership Team Meeting with District @ 7 pm
Wednesday, February 16–Ministry Team Meeting @ 7 pm
Thursday, February 17–Leadership Team Meeting @ 7 pm
Sunday, February 20–Birthday Dinner after church; we will need cake sign-ups!
Sunday, February 27–Winter Jam Christian Concert in Roanoke; $10 admission
Saturday, March 5–Sadie Rose Pancake benefit @ 2 pm
Friday, March 25–Gospel Hymn Sing Concert Benefit for the Whitmore Family @ 6:30 pm
Whitmore Family Relief
Thank you all for your help so far! Through Sunday’s offerings, over 32,000 dollars have come into the church to help the family! It is truly amazing to see how we as a church and the community have come together to help our friends!
There will be two fundraisers upcoming. First, on Saturday, February 5, there will be a spaghetti dinner and auction sponsored by the AMVETS on Liberty St in Harrisonburg. It is a free will offering, starting at 5 pm. Second, we will host a Gospel Hymn Sing Concert benefit on Friday, March 25 beginning at 6:30 pm (doors open at 6 pm). We will collect a love offering for the Whitmore family. Some of the guests include Michael Hoover (Elvis), one of the Crestmans, and more!
Listening Sessions & Congregational Business Meeting
Thank you to those who attended the first listening session. The goal of these listening sessions is to provide space for members to share their honest feelings and heart concerning our discernment before we proceed to step four in the process. The second will take place as part of our regular council meeting this Sunday, February 6. Again, the goal is to be able to listen to the heart of our church.
We did share some documents during the listening session. If you are a member who did not attend the listening session, the documents can be found in the narthex of the church, right next to the packet for the Congregational Business Meeting. If you need an electronic copy, please email Tess or Pastor Ryan.
Our new Bible Study will begin Sunday evening, February 6 at 5:15 pm at the church and will be every Sunday evening (except February 27) until the study concludes. We will start with a provided meal and then continue in the study. We will be exploring ways we can grow in our understanding of the Bible. The goal is for us to become even more connected and faithful to God’s Holy Word! Right now, we only have two individuals who have committed to the Bible study. We would like a few more commitments in order to make it happen. If not, then the Bible study will be tabled to a later time.
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s stories. We are looking for one person each week, rather than a month at a time. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
Call to Prayer & Discernment
Let us continue to pray for our nation in the following ways:
1) National return to God
2) Repentance of personal sin
3) Repentance of corporate sin
4) Healing for the brokenness of relationships
5) Our leaders
7) Guidance for our congregation in the days ahead
Misti Wheelbarger is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour for next year. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to her and let her know.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Mail your tithe into the church office
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate on Sunday!
Continue to Keep in Prayer our members in Skilled Care Facilities: Mary G Miller, Shirley Miller, Stanley Suter & Carolyn Wine
Those within our church family who either have COVID or were exposed to COVID.
John Bennington (health)
Patsy Dastoli (health)
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
John Fix (addiction)
Janet Good (health)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Barbara Meadows (health)
Alda Miller (health)
Betty Miller (health)–continue to pray after her stroke.
Mary G Miller (health)
Marty Moore (recovery)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Pidge Rhodes (recovery)
Lottie Ritchie (health)
Abbie Shiflet (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Whitmore family (fire recovery)
Mary Whitmore (health)
Tom Wilfong (health)
Winne Wilfong (recovery)
Charles Wright (recovery)
Joyce Wright (health)
Owen Wright (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB