My First Sermon: Empty, Full or Living?
Mag. Claudia R. Wintoch
January 18, 2003



Last Monday - the first day of school - I had the joy, honor and responsibility of preaching for the very first time (in class). I had told God, that I will refuse to speak nice words, a nice little sermon, that I would only speak what came from His heart. And that I would only preach with Him being there, and Him coming with power to touch and change lives.
The Lord spoke a sermon into my heart for my classmates, and He came to back it up. I did not know what to expect from my first sermon, but knew how much God had deposited in me, and was curious to see it come out. It was so great to see what God can do with someone yielded to Him! His presence was very evident, and His life was flowing - through a little Austrian girl like me. Awesome God!

I'd like to share a condensed version of my sermon with you - may it touch and challenge your lives also.



On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. (John 7:37-39a)

It was
the last and greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles, one of three mandatory feasts where Jews had to gather in Jerusalem. Every morning at 9 a.m. they would come to the Temple for the morning sacrifice, and then they'd all begin chanting Psalms 113-118 over and over again, all day long. Just before the 3 p.m. sacrifice, the priest would take a golden pitcher, walk through the Kidron valley to the pool of Siloam which had living water (i.e. water flowing in and out), fill the pitcher, and walk back to the Temple with the pitcher held high above his head. As soon as he entered the Temple court, the shofar was blown. While he was walking towards the altar, the people would chant the last verses of Psalm 118. Reaching the altar, the shofar was blown again, and suddenly it got totally silent (their chanting could be heard for miles!). Then the priest would walk up the steps of the altar and pour out the water. This ritual was called the Water Drawing Ceremony.

On the
last and greatest day of the Feast, the priest would also walk to the pool, carry the water back in his golden pitcher, the shofar was blown as he entered the courts, and he was walking while the people finished chanting Psalm 118, the last sentence being: Save now, I pray, oh Lord; oh Lord, I pray, send now prosperity! The priest had now reached the altar, the shofar was blown, and it got totally silent. But instead of walking up the steps, the priest would walk around the altar seven times before pouring out the water.

That was the only time when Jesus could have been heard. The people had just asked God to be saved, for prosperity - which is well-being, healing, provision, happiness, and everything else. Jesus looked at the crowds, looked at each individual, and His heart was breaking for them. Their eyes were empty, hollow, lifeless. They were bound by a religious system that had failed to show them the way. They were hungry, they were thirsty for the real thing, for the living water the priest was holding above his head as he was walking around the altar.
Jesus could not contain Himself any longer. He was the answer, He was the life, He had the living water, He was the way, and His compassion compelled him to speak up when everybody could hear Him:
I can see your thirst, and I am the answer. Just come to me! Come to me and drink!

Are you thirsty? Do you qualify for "If anyone is thirsty..."? Are you thirsty for Him, or are you thirsty for other stuff? Are you thirsty for His presence, or would you rather spend time with your TV? Are you thirsty for His glory, or would you rather have real food?

But being thirsty for Him is not enough. You need to do something about it. Jesus said,
come to Me and drink. Do you come to Him? When you get up in the morning, and He is full of anticipation to be with you, do you run into His arms? Or do you turn the other way to get all the things done you've got to do - not seeing the sadness and tear in Jesus' eye?

And when you come to Him, how do you come to Him? Do you come to your Savior as a subject of the King of kings? Do you bow before Him and present your list of requests to be granted?
Or do you come as a servant to your Lord? You are working hard for Him, being very busy with the works of the Kingdom. Jesus said that some would say to Him,
Lord, Lord, haven't we done this and that for you..., but He didn't know them.
Much of Western Christianity is knowing Him as Savior and Lord. And while that is totally legitimate, it is certainly not all. We are also sons, princes of the King, with access to everything the Father has, heirs of the Kingdom.
And we are the bride of the Bridegroom. He is our lover, and it is that close He wants to be with us. He longs to just be with us, just spend time together. Lovers don't even have to talk, they just enjoy being together.

How do YOU approach Him? Do you list your needs, do you read His letters to you, or do you just hang out together?

When you enter His presence, come to Him for the only reason of being with Him, then you are drinking from Him. He is inviting you to drink.

The Bible says that we are clay vessels with a great treasure (2.Cor 4:7). What does your vessel look like? Is it empty? Is it still moist, or is it dry? Is there a thirst for water to fill it? Is the Holy Spirit pouring into you? How full is your vessel? The less water there is, the more you have to tip the glass to pour it out.

Or is your vessel full? What does your water look like? Is it living water, or stale? Living water is water that flows in and flows out. Is your water flowing out? What good is it if you are full but nothing flows out? Being full is not the goal. The goal is to pour that living water out to bring life. Jesus said,
streams of living water will flow from within you. Is your water flowing? Are you making a difference? If your water gets stale, no one will want it, and it won't bring life. It will even affect the vessel negatively.

What does your vessel look like? Is it dry and empty? Or are you full and becoming stale? Or do you have living water - His water flowing in and His water flowing out?

Are you thirsty? Are you thirsty for Him? Come to Jesus and drink. He is waiting for you with open arms....

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance. (Ps 2:8)
Mag. Claudia R. Wintoch
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