Wanting to be an ideal hostess, a mother asked an out-of-town
pastor who was staying over night at their home, if he would care
to read something from the Bible and offer a prayer before
retiring for the night. The pastor assured her he would. The woman
sent her son to bring the book that mother and daddy read so much.
Her son returned with the Sears and Roebuck catalogue.
A nine-year old Sunday school boy was the only one in his class
who responded when the teacher asked who knew the story of Jonah.
After his accurate summary, the teacher complimented him on being
the only student who had read the Bible lesson that week.
Painfully honest, the boy corrected the teacher. "I didn't read it
in the Bible," he explained, "It was on a bubble gum wrapper."
(not something you'd find on a bubble gum wrapper THESE days!)
Little Maggie had bought her grandmother a Bible for her
birthday and wanted to write a nice inscription inside the front
cover. She racked her brain until she remembered that her father
had a book with an inscription of which he was very proud. So
Maggie decided to copy it. Imagine her grandmother's surprise when
she opened her gift of a beautiful Bible and found the following
phrase inside the cover: "To Grandma, with the compliments of the
A small girl told her Pastor that she knew everything there was
in the Bible. The pastor, amused, remarked that she might know a
few things, but not quite all. "Oh yes I do know all that's in
it," was the girl's quick reply. Her mother, who had been
listening, rebuked the girl for saying such a thing. The daughter
was persistent and said, "But mom, I do. There's three dead
leaves, a lock of hair, a love letter and a recipe for brown
bread, and that's all there is in the Bible."
And finally something that comes from a book by Robert Ketchum,
"I Shall Not Want." He tells of a Sunday School teacher who asked
her group of children if anyone could recite the entire 23rd
Psalm. One four-and-a-half-year old girl was among those who
raised their hands. A bit skeptical, since the girl was so young,
the teacher asked if she could really recite the entire psalm. The
little girl came to the front of the room, faced the class, made a
quick little bow, and said, "The Lord is my shepherd, that's all I
want." She bowed again and went and sat down. That may well be the
greatest interpretation of the 23rd Psalm ever heard.
Because the Lord Jesus Christ is our Shepherd, life, now and
forever is Free for All. That's the title of my sermon today,
"Free for All."
That's a great phrase, "free for all." No matter what age we
are, we like to see that something we really want is free. Many
people, thinking they are expounding a wise saying, respond to
something that's free by saying, "If it's worth anything, it isn't
free." Or you hear, "If they say it's free, you better watch out
because there's a gimmick and you're going to end up paying
through the nose." Or you hear, "Nothing in life comes free.
There's always a price to pay."
There certainly is some wisdom to those phrases, but they don't
hold true across the board, and the sad matter is, that although
one should always teach children to be cautious, phrases like that
teach children to categorically distrust others.
There's another phrase that I like better, and that's "The best
things in life are free." Sometimes that gets used as though it's
a soothing balm to explain to someone why things that cost money
aren't worth having. And used of course, by a person who doesn't
HAVE things that cost money or go places that cost money.
But it's true, really, that the best things in life are free.
Here's another phrase, "Money can't buy happiness." It's true.
Happiness, love, friendship, loyalty, honor, the beauty of God's
created world, you can't buy those things; they're free.
And there is, of course, something that is categorically free
for all. That's the saving grace of Jesus the Christ. There's no
price to pay; Jesus paid the price. But, unfortunately many people
seem to be skeptical, that because it's free there's a catch to
it. And unfortunately there are many Christians who PRESENT that
saving grace of Jesus to someone with a catch. It's only free if
you do this or that.
No, it's free. Period. Unfortunately, many people don't accept
gifts. They feel it makes them obligated to another person in some
way. And they approach this free gift of salvation in the same
manner. They are given the gift, but they don't open it; they
don't use it, make it part of their life.
In the 10:15 service, because it's Children's Sunday, the
Children's sermon will also be the adult sermon. As part of that
sermon I'll mention a version of the game of hide and seek we used
to play and that was "All-ee-All-ee-in-free." That was, if someone
made it to the home spot without being tagged by the person who
was 'it', they could get everyone else in free, safely, by calling
That's what Jesus does for us; gets us 'home free' by taking
the power away from the Devil to prevent that from happening. Now,
in the game, you had to be careful because the person who was it
could 'cheat' and call out "All-ee-All-ee-in-free" and tag you as
you came to touch the home spot. You had to be careful, from some
spot where you were still not visible to the person who was 'it',
to check and see if there was some person who was standing at the
home spot calling out those words and it wasn't the person who was
It's the same for us today. We have to make sure we have our
eyes on Jesus so we aren't fooled by the Devil trying to trick us.
The Devil uses lots of ways to trick us into believing that
something is safe and won't be harmful to us. Some things don't
seem harmful at all, but what they do is to separate us from God.
When we follow the ways of the world that deceive us into thinking
negatively, that's the Devil. When we're thinking and acting
negatively, we are easy prey for the Devil because we aren't
focused on the love of Christ. We aren't focused on the Holy
Spirit to guide us. If you're focused on what Jesus taught, then
you'll see the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, the phrase, "Free for all" can be looked at in at
least two other ways. It can mean that something is wildly out of
control. Like, "There was no order at all in the classroom; it was
a wild free for all." And it can be used in a similar manner to
negatively describe some scene or gathering that was out of
But, it can also mean something wonderfully joyous. It can mean
that someone viewed a particular gathering as something very
liberating, very freeing. It can mean that they were able to
beneficially experience a part of themselves they hadn't
So what does the phrase "Free for All" mean for us right here
and now? First, Christ teaches us a better way to live out lives
so that we live as it as a freeing experience, and we know that
life after death, salvation, is free to all. We know that right
here and now, we have the opportunity to be free from all the
limiting phrases that the Devil wants to plant in our minds. We
know that to believe in the "best things in life" is to believe in
the love and compassion and forgiveness of Christ. We know that we
are free to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit rather than the
screwed up ways of the Devil that just lead us to places of
negativity and unhappiness.
Right now, and right now any minute during your day, you can
know that Christ has called everyone in free, "All-ee-All-ee-in-free,"
and as you stay focused on Christ you'll be aware of the guidance
of the Holy Spirit that will keep you free from the trickery of
It's always our choice: accept the free gift of love that is
salvation, or go on hiding, go on trying to do it on our own, go
on not using the gift, the power of the Holy Spirit to help us
live a life that is free.
Without accepting the gift, life is not as full, and free, and
powerful as it could be. We are not the blessing to others that we
could be unless we live our lives as individuals who know what it
is to live a life that is free because of Christ. Christ calls:
All-ee-All-ee-in-free-now and forever.
It's Free for All.
It's a 'free for all' 'free for all'!