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"Jesus, Will You Get That?"

Written by: Unknown    Posted on: 04/09/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

        April 24, 1994

Message Text:  John 10:11-18 Message Theme:  Jesus, Will You Get That?                         1.      Spiritual Inverts                         2.      Spiritual Converts

INTRODUCTION

This morning I would like you to imagine yourself as sheep. Think sheep! You are a sheep! Have you got a picture of yourself? You are short, cute, and about (this) tall. You are off-white and fuzzy, with black on your toes and ears and nose. You earn for grass. And by the end of our time together my prayer is that you think exactly like a sheep. Let me explain...

Now as sheep you certainly realize who our most hated enemy is -- that's right, the wolf! The wolf stalks your flock continually. And as the wolf persistently knocked on the doors of the three little pigs, he knocks on your door too. He is just waiting. As someone once asked, Why is it that opportunity only knocks once, yet temptation bangs on the door constantly?

The question of the day then sheep (and I use that term endearingly), is what do we do when the devil, that ravenous wolf, knocks on our door? Do we open it and tell him to go away? Do we pretend we aren't home? Do we see what he wants? Or do we ask the Good Shepherd to get it? As Christians, when Satan comes calling, do we consistently say, Jesus, Will You Get That? Unfortunately as sheep, who are perhaps the dumbest creatures on the earth, we don't always do the right thing. Sometimes we are what we will call Spiritual Inverts and at other times we are what we will call Spiritual Converts.

SPIRITUAL INVERTS

Let's examine the sheep a little more closely. The sheep has become so thouroughly domesticated that they have no instincts to defend themselves. When a wolf, or a coyote, gets into the flock, a sheep is incapable of mounting any kind of defense. In storms they have been known to pile up in the corner of their pasture, actually smothering one another to death. If a sheep stumbles and falls into a ravine and rolls over on its back, the poor animal is helpless to right itself and to stand up again. Is it any different for us sheep today? What do we sometimes do when storms arise in our own lives? What do we sometimes do when we stumble and fall? In a deeply spiritual sense we are totally helpless to defend ourselves against the devil, the world and yes even our own sinful flesh.

Now the shepherd's job is to keep the predators, wolves, thieves and bandits away from the flock. It is not the job of the flock (as dense and defenseless sheep), to organize an attack against these marauding forces. Sheep should do what sheep do best -- stay close by their shepherd, remaining under the shadow of his protection.

But for "sheep" like ourselves, that attitude is a problem. We don't like to think of ourselves as dependent on anyone or anything else for protection. When danger comes knocking on our door, it is not in our nature to stand back and let a protector answer it for us. We just can't bring ourselves to admit that we are indeed helpless and unable to do anything for ourselves. Eve couldn't accept it. She felt she could be like God. The rich young ruler who approached Jesus couldn't accept that his riches meant nothing and that he was incapable of doing something on his own behalf.

Spiritual inverts don't invite Jesus the good shepherd to get it for them. Spiritual inverts hear the knock but then start vacillating. Inverts refuse to make decisions about what to do with the devil lurking on the porch. Spiritual inverts can't seem to go ahead and hand the responsibility over to Jesus for him to deal with the situation. The Bible has a special distaste for such wishy-washy, spiritually inverted fence-sitters. It calls them "lukewarm," and counsels decisively to spit them out. They can see Jesus as the good shepherd. Yet they still cling to the hope that maybe they can make it without a shepherd after all.

Spiritual Inverts turn inward for their strength and guidance and when there is no answer we just don't know what to do. We become confused, and if we dip into our own empty wells too often for guidance we eventually become indifferent. We say, what difference does it make? It is the indifferent that God despises and spits out of his mouth. He would rather we be cold than lukewarm. So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16) At times we are all lukewarm sheep.

Religion on the American frontier was a rough and rugged phenomenon. Many frontier families knew not even the rudiments of religion. When the Rev. "Fightin" Jack Porter asked the blessing at one family's meal, the host's 10-year-old nephew was astounded. The next day, when the lad saw the preacher walk down the street, he rushed up to him and asked, "Are you the preacher who talks to the plate?" How many of our prayers are but "talking to our plate"? How many of our songs are but "talking to our books"? It is lukewarm indifference that gives God mere lip-service. It is lukewarm indifference that makes your worship time something to be endured rather than inspired by. It is lukewarm indifference that turns Christian Soldiers into Christian Bystanders, just biding their time until the Lord comes back. It is this lukewarm indifference that enables the wolf to come and as Jesus said, "attacks the flock and scatters it."

SPIRITUAL CONVERTS

But Christianity doesn't have to be one of lukewarm indifference and spirutal inverts debating among themselves what to do about sin, death and Satan. Look at the first verse of our text. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." Jesus begins this section with the word "I". From the very beginning we are invited to turn our entire attention to Jesus and only Jesus, and away from ourselves, our limitations, our worries, our problems.

He tells us that he is completely different from the run of the mill shepherd, and especially the shepherd who is just a hired hand. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10:12-13) The "hired hand" kills the sheep just as surely as do the thieves -- for by abandoning any interest in the sheep's welfare, the hired hand condemns the helpless creatures to death at the jaws of the wolf. He does not "own" the sheep nor does he "care" for the sheep. The hired hand is only interested in the payday. We can almost hear this fellow complaining about "the lousy hours, poor pay, and smelly working conditions." This picture describes precisely the indifferent selfishness of the Pharisees of Jesus' day. They showed little concern for the welfare of others, being consumed instead by their greed. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers." (Matthew 23:14)

But Jesus, as our owner has ultimate responsiblity for the sheep and a personal investment in their continued well-being. Jesus said, "I know my sheep and my sheep know me." But it is more than just knowing, but "as the Father knows me and I know the Father." There are two types of knowledge expressed by different Greek words. This word used here is ginosko, which is translated to "know by experience." He KNEW them. He keeps track of which ones are feeble and unable to travel as quickly, which ones are sick or about to give birth, and so forth. This shepherd became a sheep himself. The Good Shepherd dies "for" the sheep, huper. "In place of". Jesus himself became a sheep, a lamb. The shepherd became a sheep, a sacrifical one. He lived our life, faced our tempations and died the death we should have died. All to be our substitute, our Savior.

But to be the "good" shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep is not enough. What good would it do for an earthly shepherd to fight with a wolf and lose? If the shepherd is dead, if the fight is lost, then the sheep are dead. But here we read that not only did Jesus love the sheep above all else, but he has the power to do something for them. He defeated death and rose from the grave. "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life -- only to take it up again." (Verse 17)

Are you still thinking sheep? In order for you to more fully understand what Christ has done for us, you must realize what kind of love it took to save people like us. Someone once said, "If you can't stand the smell of sheep, you shouldn't be a shepherd." To illustrate Christ's love for his sheep, we need to remember If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable. (Proverbs 28:9) Our sins, our straying, our sinful natures are destestable to God. But because we have a shepherd who was willing to lay down his life even for sheep like us we read, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  And now, instead of detestable, smelly sheep, "For we are to God the aroma of Christ." (2 Corinthians 2:15)

An older theologian once wrote: There is an old ploughman in the country I sometimes talk with, and he often says, though in uncouth words, some precious things. He said to me one day, "The other day, sir, the Devil was tempting me and I tried to answer him; but found he was an old lawyer and understood the law a great deal better than I did, so I gave over and would not argue with him any more; so I said to him, 'What do you trouble me for?' 'Why,' said he, 'about your soul.' 'Oh!' said I, 'that is no business of mine; my soul has been given over into the hand of Christ; everything has been transfered to him; if you want an answer to your doubts and queries, you must apply to my Advocate.'"

Those who by God's grace and Holy Spirit have been converted hear the knockings of Satan at the door. But now instead of wandering over and listening we can stick close to the Good Shepherd and let him handle it.

How?

1. When temptation hits you, pray! Develop a solid prayer life. Set aside some significant time at various points in the day and also use prayer throughout your day. I have learned to use prayer in the car. A perfect time to speak to your Savior. An old pastor once said, "I'd rather be able to pray than be a great preacher; Jesus Christ never taught his disciples how to preach, but only how to pray."

2. When temptation hits you, and you have tough decisions to make, consult the only source for true guidance, your Bible. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Make every effort to develop good Bible study habits. Attend our group Bible studies here at church or in our K-Groups. Place a high priority on family devotions which also include zprayer. Gather with other members of the flock whenever you possibly can, because the Good Shepherd promises to be there were two or three are gathered together.

3. When temptation hits you, BE CAREFUL! My car's right side mirror has the words, "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear." That is the way the devil is. When you think you have him at arms length, that is the time to be especially careful. He just may be closer than you think. The Bible says not to give the devil a foothold. Avoid things of the devil -- horoscopes,ouiji boards (which intrigue my confirmation class), situations in which the devil has free reign. One place the devil loves to work is in our work schedules. Through our jobs the devil tries very hard to get us to work on Sundays. Even more today than ever, people are being asked to work on Sunday morning. Some don't have a choice about the matter, but many do. Recognize that Satan would much rather have you on the job than in God's house.  BE CAREFUL!

4. When temptation hits you, let go and let God. It is all about trust. Sheep must completely and totally trust the shephard. Sheep must say, "Jesus would you get that for me?" This past Thursday's reading in the Daily Bible included Psalm 46, and it better than any other sums up the message this morning. God said, "Be still and know that I am God." AMEN



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