Tuesday, February 27, 2007

John 10:11 – 21

I. What does it mean to be a “good shepherd?”

A. A good shepherd is a WATCHFUL WARRIOR.

1. Daivd’s example: But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, [35] I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. [36] Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. [37] The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." [1 Samuel 17:34 – 37]

2. Big, scary, nasty things do not scare the good shepherd: “I went after it.”

3. David demonstrated an absolute dependence on the Lord.

B. A good shepherd is a PROVIDER, PROTECTOR, and PHYSICIAN.

1. PROVIDER: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. [Psalm 23:1 – 3]

2. PROTECTOR: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. [Psalm 23:4]

3. PHYSICIAN: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. [Psalm 23:5 – 6]

C. A good shepherd is SELF SACRIFICING [John 10:14]

1. This is a choice, not because of some inability.

2. The good shepherd goes as far as possible to save what belongs to Him.

3. It is an exercise of love for those who may not understand it.

D. A good shepherd is a KNOWLEDGEABLE KEEPER. [John 10:14]

1. There is a mutual knowledge.... Knowing God, being known by God.

2. This kind of knowledge comes from relationship.

3. Jesus loves us (even though He knows us).

II. What does it mean to be “sheep?”

A. We can form a “negative” image of the shepherd.

1. We think that Jesus just wants to take all the fun out of life.

a. Problem: how we define fun tends to be malignant (addictive, abusive, tyrannizing, and terrorizing).

b. Safety often requires common sense. (Ill. Of the pick up truck that hit black ice; right in front of me.)

2. We think that Jesus just wants to take all the joy out of life.

a. Problem: our view is often very short-sighted. (Immediate gratification –vs– delayed gratification... Why do we eat desert last?)

b. Sometimes we don’t even know what joy is...

B. We can develop a “positive” image of the shepherd.

1. We see Jesus as a rescuer. (Not necessarily healthy.)

a. (Ill.) of the people caught on Mt Hood this week. They did “everything right,” except get in trouble. (They were rescued.)

b. The problem is getting in trouble. Look to God as invincible when we need help.

2. We see Jesus as He loves us. (Develops humble gratitude.)

a. Incredible love to lay it down (by choice, on purpose) for us.

b. Infinite patience in dealing with us when we get stubborn.

c. Indubitable appreciation for us. (After all He created us.)

III. But what happens if we don’t what to fit into this picture?

(Excuses we give.)

A. Bad things have, are, and will happen.

1. There ARE thieves and wolves (that’s why the shepherd is necessary).

2. Satanic strategy is revealed.

a. [v 10] destroy the individual: steal, kill, and destroy.

b. [v 12] demolish the church: attack and scatter. (Sheep’s natural instinct is to flee, not fight. They regroup and look at their attacker. So the attack must be enough to scatter the flock.)

B. “I don’t belong.”

1. Jesus talked about “other sheep” – those not raised in the “correct” religious tradition.

2. Jesus talked about “other sheep” – those that are lost in the wild. Jesus searches for us.

C. “I’m not that bad off.”

1. Sheep with out a shepherd are vulnerable and in danger.

a. Predators generally separate out the week.

b. Predators are also efficient at stalking their victium.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." [Genesis 4:7]

2. Sheep without a shepherd are unnatural.

a. You will follow someone/something. (Ill. “Judas goat”)

b. “Leadersheep” the sheep follow in difficult circumstances. (Ill. The sheep that followed off a cliff. 450 died, providing a cushion to save the other 1550 that followed over the cliff.)

3. Sheep without a shepherd are agitated and nervous.

a. Sheep are naturally suspicious, they don’t walk a straight line so they can look around and back. Their eye sight is very sharp. All this is heightened when they are not around their shepherd.

b. Sheep a easily annoyed and spooked.

BUT, what would happen if the sheep suspect or hope there is a better way than just become a pile of corpses?

IV. Maybe the sheep would notice:

A. That the good shepherd has taken the initiative.

1. Jesus fights for you. He laid his life down to save you.

2. Jesus has given you His undeserved, indescribable love and loyalty.

3. Jesus has a sincere appreciation for you.

B. That as sheep, wondering off is not a good idea.

1. We would be more attuned and attendant to the God’s voice.

2. We would have an appreciation and love for the good shepherd.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

John 10:1 – 10
“What have you done with Jesus?”

I. Jesus is “exclusive.”

A. Jesus uses the image of a door.

1. A door implies two sides: outside and inside.

a. Sometimes the door is locked (privilege or ownership).

b. Sometimes the door is standing open (invitation).

2. A door implies entrance or exit.

a. You can enter through a door.

b. You can exit through a door.

3. Two images of Jesus and a door.

a. The first one (here) is that of the gate to a secure place.

b. The second one (Rev. 3:10) is of Jesus outside the church.

B. The difficulty with this image:

1. People have trouble seeing Jesus as exclusive, in the sense of being a door.

(Ill.) Bugs Bunny vs Yosemite Sam... high dive board, door.

a. Some don’t like the idea that this door (Jesus) actually goes someplace.

b. Some and nobody will get to that place without going through the door (Jesus).

2. People do not want to admit the door (Jesus) serves a purpose.

a. The door is not a trick, to get money or anything else.

b. The door is a serious question mark: Which side are you standing on?

II. Jesus is “gentle.”

A. Sheep spook easily.

1. They run from strangers because they sense danger.

a. The only way to steal a sheep is through violence.

b. The sheep have learned to associate the shepherd’s voice with safety... so they shy away from strangers.

2. They know the shepherd’s voice and respond to it.

a. (Ill.) A Bedouin shepherd was asked to demonstrate his command of his sheep by using his voice. He called a sheep from the flock. It picked up its head, looked for the shepherd, and made its way through the other sheep to the shepherd.

b. (Ill) Two shepherds meet with their flocks behind them on a narrow street. The flocks mix, get jumbled up but they sort themselves out and continue to follow their shepherd who is leading with a song.

Sometimes we are listening to the wrong voices. Despair.com parodies the motivational posters you see all over the place. One of them says “Meetings: None of us is as dumb as all of us.”

B. The shepherd separates by ownership.

1. The shepherd KNOWS his sheep.

a. The shepherd probably was there at birthing (sheep seldom birth without help).

b. The shepherd may have fed and carried some of the lambs (who may have been too weak... fought for their lives).

2. God KNOWS you, not about you.

a. “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” [Isaiah 49:16a]

b. “If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” [Revelation 20:15]

III. Jesus is the only opportunity.

A. The door of salvation leads to life.

1. This implies spiritual safety.

a. In a RIGHT RELATIONSHIP the believer is secure in Jesus.

b. That’s the idea of following: to be in close proximity to Jesus.

2. This implies spiritual liberty.

a. Freedom vs Liberty

1.) Freedom – “the power or right to act, speak, or think freely.” [Oxford University Press]

2.) Liberty – “the state of being free from oppression or imprisonment.” [Oxford University Press]

b. The difference is that liberty is the possibility and freedom is the power.

1.) We have no power, unless, there first exists the possibility.

2.) We are not able to follow until we are given (and accept) the possibility to follow.

3. This implies spiritual food.

a. The shepherd takes the sheep to where they can eat and drink safely.

b. It is hard for us to eat spiritual food.

B. The door of salvation leads to blessing.

1. The shepherd leads the sheep to were they can rest safely.

a. An image of this is the “Sabbath.”

b. The Sabbath is a spiritual picture of eternal life.

The Bible says, “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. [9] There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; [10] for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. [11] Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” [Hebrews 4:8 – 11]

2. There is a special joy in having a right relationship with God.

a. The parable of the “prodigal” son... A banquet!

b. The Bible says, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready... Then the angel said to me, "Write: `Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' " And he added, "These are the true words of God.” [Revelation 19:7, 9]

3. There is peace.

a. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” [John 14:27]

b. The Bible says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. [7] And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:6 – 7]

Many of us have given up hope: A Dilbert cartoon illustrates it this way. Dilbert is trying to console a new employee who is frustrated. His advice? “Give up all hope it converts the despair into bitterness.”

IV. Jesus is salvation.

A. Jesus is the only legitimate way.

1. No pastor, theology, or ministry is the way.

2. Problem is we have to deal with things like, our sinful nature, our evil passions, our inordinate appetites, our secret and besetting sins, our heart’s deception.

a. When we find a person, system, or place that helps ease the pressure, guilt or actually helps with the problem...

b. We substitute our loyalties that should be to Jesus for the pastor, theology, or ministry.

B. Serious questions:

1. Which side of the door are you on?

2. Which side of the door is Jesus on?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

John 8:12
“How do you follow Jesus?”

CONTEXT: Feast of Tabernacles (Living in tents/booths. Occurred 5 days after the Day of Atonement and lasted one week and one day. It was a time of rejoicing.) [7:2]

1. Jesus decided to go privately because they were hunting him. [7:10 – 11]

2. Jesus decided to start teaching half way through the feast. [7:14]

3. The events probably happened on the “the last and greatest day of the Feast” [7:35] or the next morning at dawn (Sunday) [8:1]

4. Jesus was “near the place where offerings were put.” [8:20].

5. During the Feast, the temple was lit by a large golden candelabrum and LOTS of candles.

a. The light symbolized the pillar that God used to lead the people in the wilderness.

b. The pillar of smoke (by day) and pillar of fire (by night) symbolized God’s presence and gave guidance to the people.

6. Jesus claimed:

a. To be the literal and physical representation of God.

b. To be the source of life and God’s guidance.

I. Jesus’ teachings (theology/dogma) had a moral and practical component (“follows” and “walks”).

*****How to follow Jesus...*****

A. 2 Timothy 2:1 – 6

1. [v 1] As a son

a. A son has special privileges because of relationship.

b. A son understands the distinction of place.

2. [v 3] As a soldier

a. A soldier can “endure hardship” because of training and determination.

b. A soldier aims to “please” the commanding officer [v4].

3. [v 5] As an athlete

a. To be competitive, an athlete must be in constant training and be disciplined.

b. To win, an athlete must compete, “according to the rules.”

4. [v 6] As a farmer

a. A farmer is “hard working.”

b. To be a successful farmer, patience and persistence is required before there is fruit.

B. Paul, James, Peter, Jude, and John all use the image of servant/slave.

1. A servant of Jesus has surrendered the will in the service of Jesus.

2. A servant of Jesus acts on Jesus’ behalf.

II. Jesus uses a powerful picture = “light.”

Augustine: “Light reveals other things and its own very self, opens healthy eyes, and is its own witness.”

A. The problem with darkness:

1. Darkness puts us in danger due to ignorance.

a. Darkness hides our ugly side (like turning over a rock and watching all the critters scatter).

b. Darkness is both natural and imposed.

1.) It is a natural picture of the sin nature.

2.) It is imposed: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” [2 Corinthians 4:4]

2. Darkness encourages error through uncertainty.

a. In darkness, we cannot see well enough to be certain.

b. In spiritual darkness we become dependent on walking by “sight” and miss the spiritual.

3. Darkness develops unbelief through fear.

a. Fear keeps us from trying to understand.

b. Fear keeps us from hoping for an answer.

B. Light gives life. Jesus is the source of both.

1. Light frees us through forgiveness.

a. We are free to follow Jesus’ example.

b. We are free to be holy.

2. Light reveals the truth. [John 3:19 – 20]

a. We discover a health life, free from the follow the crowd mentality.

b. We discover a vitality that only truth gives.

3. Light creates understanding.

a. We are instructed in the path of life.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” [Psalm 119:105]

b. Because we are correctly instructed, we enjoy a certain measure of certainty and safety.

(Ill. For young people to get a drivers license in MI, they must go through drivers training and a required number of hours of driving with a parent in the car.)

III. As the light of Jesus “dawns” or burst through our darkness, healing happens.

A. The darkness hides the true damage of sin.

1. Some of us do not know the extent of the damage of sin.

a. It is subtle and sneaky.

b. Our heart lies because it is “desperately wicked.”

2. Some of us have been the victims of unspeakable horrors.

a. A “Profiler” works based on common and predictable characteristics.

b. A bad father/son relationship creates an angry, judgmental person who is unable to submit to authority.

c. A bad (abusive) father/daughter relationship creates a woman who has difficulty relating to men in healthy ways and is unable to trust.

d. (others) Pedophiles were probably victims as children, alcoholics tend to come from families of alcoholics, alcoholism is often correlated with depression, etc... (not all victims become pedophiles and not all children of alcoholic families develop unhealthy behavior patterns.)

B. Light reveals the true offer of forgiveness.

1. When Jesus was on the cross:

a. He prayed (for forgiveness) for those who put Him there.

b. He offered forgiveness and salvation... The thief responded, so did the Roman soldier.

2. NOTHING is to dark and ugly to be forgiven.

a. The story of Jeffery Dahlmer: “cannibal serial killer”

b. The story of General Manuel Noriega = “the Panamanian drug lord.”

c. What’s your story? What is your need?

Friday, February 09, 2007

John 6:25 – 35
“Why do you follow Jesus?”

I. Do you follow because of what you get? [v 26]

A. Two factors are involved, both very human and very corrupt.

1. Some follow for the show.

a. The show is entertaining.

b. The miraculous signs are uplifting.

2. Some follow for the dinner.

a. The physical provisions are a necessity of life.

b. The resources are a basic craving of the flesh.

(Ill.) The new theory that Jesus was rich and God wants you to be rich. The old reality, what do you say to our fellow brothers and sisters in Dufar or Hati?

B. Jesus pointed out the common ground. [v 27]

1. Serious mistake #1: They chased things that do not last.

2. These things “spoil” (KJV “perisheth”). In other words they decay and rot the soul.

3. When we give in to the pursuit of them, they make us mindless and stupid.

a. We labor at religion and religious exercises. They become a cheap substitute for a relationship with God.

b. We talk the talk and walk the walk. They become our main concern, instead of our love for God. [Revelation 2:1 – 7]

c. We pursue worldly interests and advantages. They become a substitute for Jesus. [Revelation 3:14 – 22]

***** They were CONVINCED but NOT CONVICTED. *****

II. Do you follow because of what Jesus does? [v 30]

A. Serious mistake #2: They undervalued and evaded Jesus. [v 30]

1. “What will you do?” [v 30]

a. They asked for a miraculous sign... after seeing 5,000 feed.

b. The carnal always try to judge the spiritual.

2. The reference is to Moses and the manna [Exodus 16:2 – 4, 11 – 15]

a. The people would rather be slaves than starve.

1.) New Hampshire motto “Live free or die” has long been forgotten.

2.) (Ill.) The man that wanted wisdom who went to a spiritual teacher. They walked down to the lake were the teacher grabbed the man and held him underwater. The teacher pulled the man’s head up and asked “What do you want?” “Air” the man grasped. “When you want wisdom as much as you wanted air, you will find it.”

b. UNFORTUNATELY we would rather be slaves. It’s easier. We are controlled by someone/something else and we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions.

B. Serious mistake #3: They walked by SIGHT not by FAITH.

1. “That we may see it and believe.”

2. The Bible says, “ Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” [Hebrews 11:1]

***** They were CURIOUS but NOT COMMITTED. *****

III. Do you follow because of Jesus? [v 35]

A. Is it because of love that we follow Jesus?

1. The blessing or Jesus?

2. The feeling or Jesus?

3. The gift or The Giver?

4. Healing or The Healer?

5. Do you want to use Jesus or be used by Jesus?

6. Do you labor for yourself or for Jesus alone?

[From: “Himself” by A. B. Simpson 1843 – 1919]

B. Circumstances or Jesus? [Habakkuk 3:17 – 18]

1. In the worst of circumstances (even without entertainment or physical provisions)...

a. Even when there is no fruit, no grain, no meat, no food.

b. Human philosophy says, without the basics, no other achievement is possible... it seems contrary to human nature.

(Ill. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was given the answer: “My grace is sufficient for you.”)

2. There is rejoicing because the view is eternal.

a. There is confidence in God.

b. There is an understanding, that something more important than self, is found in God.

R. Zacarius: “Joy is man’s inner response to God’s victory.”

3. The Bible says, “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work (singular) of God, that ye believe on Him who He hath sent.” [John 6:29]

a. Believe means to habitually trust God’s power and grace.

b. Believe means full moral surrender of the will to God.

C. The result of Jesus’ teaching when the crowd understood it: (they) “turned back and no longer followed.” [v 66]

***** They were CHALLENGED but NOT CHANGED. *****