Hello fellows! Hope that you are all getting along alright in these changed circumstances. It will pass soon enough. Anyway, last Lord's Day Pastor John based his sermon on a passage from the first half of the Gospel of John. It is a good idea to understand the gospel in context: who wrote that Gospel, who were his audience,, and what were the main ideas he wanted to get across to them, and now to us. Towards this foundation of understanding this Bible Project video is good to watch before reading the Gospel of John.
Pastor John had us read a passage from John chapter 10.
John 10:1-9 (NIV) The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Even though the 66 books of the Bible were written by about 40 authors over some 1400 or 1500 years, because God was the divine editor, the 66 books all contribute unfailingly to the same message. See Psalm 23, written by Israelite king David many centuries before John:
Psalm 23 (NIV) A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.At that gate: How do we approach God? Sometimes we have fear and despair. What if God rejects me and I am not welcome to enter?
As Pastor John says, we all want to be accepted. But: when we place our value and worth on ourselves we will always be disappointed and offended. God.s value stystem is different from ours. It is as Pastor John illustrated to us through John 6:37: All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
Jesus is the gate. Do you admire all that Jesus has done for you, just as you might admire the gate at Disneyland? Would you admire the gate at Disneyland, and then just walk away? Not likely! So also Jesus your gate: don't just admire what he has done for you, but walk through the gate into his abundant life!
If you don't go through the gate, maybe so far in your life you don't see the need for salvation from your imperfect, sinful self.
Do you care if other people are hurting for one reason or another? If so, you surely would wish to help a hurting person as best as you can. But: you cannot be of help to a hurting person unless you yourself have been cured of your own hurts by the Good Shepherd, the Gatekeeper. In all humility and expectation, go through the Gate! Then you can truly care for others.
Security: John 10: 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
You are saved not because of earning God's love, but because you believe that God loves you despite your imperfections. If you are so loved, you have love to flow out to others. You feel secure in God's hands, in the hands of the Good Shepherd. So, whatever happens, Covid-19, Covid-20, earthquakes, nuclear war, or whatever, God will see you through. Just don't allow the devil to steal your faith through doubt.
When Jesus died on the cross, the temple veil preventing anyone but a Jewish high priest from being in God's presence was torn. Not just Jews, but all the rest of us, can be in God's presence, if we believe.
Do not have an attitude of “I want you Jesus, but also I want...(good grades, toilet paper, etc)” No. Rather -
Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Go through the gate in absolute trust in Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and whatever you truly need in this life will be given to you in His good time.