THE VINE

[SW126] 1/31/14 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“The Vine”

The Vine. Jesus Christ is the true Vine. When you are attached to Him, you receive His sap which gives you God-life, God-love, and a changed heart. And you bear God-fruit.

John 15

Jesus has just told the disciples the Father and He will come and literally dwell  inside them when they believe into and obey and love Jesus, and that the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, will literally dwell in them.

Then He says, “Get up, let us go from here.” On their way to the Garden at Gethsemane, they cross the Temple courtyard. A relief of a golden grapevine, with grapes as big as a man, stands out from the Temple’s top stones.

It is Passover time, so there is a full moon (as is always the case for that feast). So the golden vine and grapes are clearly seen in the moonlight.

With that, Jesus begins.

He says “I AM the true Vine.” The vine brings life-giving sap to the branches.

The true Vine brings God’s life and love into human hearts, changing their hearts (Hebrews 8:10) and delivering them from God’s wrath, which will come to those who refuse Jesus Christ, His Son.

The golden vine around the Temple will not bring God’s life and love and changed hearts to Israel and the rest of the world.

The good works done by the Jewish people will not bring God’s life and love and changed hearts to Israel and the rest of the world.

The high priest and the Pharisees and the rabbis and the Sanhedrin ruling council will not bring God’s life and love and changed hearts to Israel and the rest of the world.

Only the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is the true Vine.

Only He is able to bring God’s life and love and changed hearts to us, so we no longer sin (rebel) against God and thus, are no longer under His wrath.

Only the I AM, the voice from the burning bush in Exodus 3, can do that.

I AM the true Vine, and you are the branches, He says.

What do grapevines bear? Fruit. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). That is God’s fruit, borne by God’s branches.

That is what He wanted from Israel, but they bore only wild grapes, sour and bitter (Isaiah 5, Matthew 21:33ff).

BUT once you have come to believe into Jesus Christ, you are a branch of the true Vine, taking His sap into you, and you bear God’s fruit.

We have a Vinedresser — God the Father. A vinedresser only tends that which is attached to the Vine, making it flourish. He does not tend that which is unattached.

The Vinedresser is merciful!

— If you do not bear fruit, He lifts you up so you get more light!

— If you do bear fruit, He prunes you so you can branch out more and bear even more fruit (Hebrews 12:4ff)! His Word is what prunes you (Verse 3).

BUT to bear any fruit at all,

— You must abide (live) in Jesus Christ

— Jesus Christ must abide (live) in you

You cannot bear His fruit unless  you take into yourself His life, His sap.

IF you do not abide (live) in Him,

— You can do nothing. Your good works are nothing. Your wit and humor is nothing. Your natural abilities are nothing. God will not work through you if He is not in you.

— AND you are cut off (that is, cast off forcefully) AND you are set on fire and consumed.

BUT if you abide (live) in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ abides (lives) in you,

— His words abide in you.

His words live in you because He lives in you. So He speaks His words to you and His words come out of your mouth. And you to ask whatever you wish, and it will be done. You will ask what He would ask, because His words live in you and come out of your mouth and heart.

Why must branches of the true Vine bear fruit?

So God the Father is glorified. He is glorified when:

1) you bear much fruit and therefore

2) are disciples of Jesus Christ.

Those who are not disciples of Jesus Christ — who do not follow (that is, obey) and love Him — cannot glorify God the Father, and they are not disciples of Jesus Christ.

What is in the sap of the true Vine? What is delivered to us branches who abide in Him and Him in us?

His love (Verse 9). Not our love for Him, but His actual love. God’s love. Agape. The same love our Father has for His Son, Jesus Christ. The same love that Jesus Christ has for us.

That is the lifeblood for us branches, and it is His agape in us that makes us bear God’s fruit. What passes through Him to us, His sap, is His love, His agape.

If His love is in us, His love will come out of us. Agape produces God’s fruit, God’s grapes.

Then He says, “Abide in My love.” His agape literally dwells within us, and we dwell literally in the embrace of God’s agape.

How do we know if we are abiding in agape? We obey. Our obedience is evidence that Jesus Christ and His love abide in us.

He tells us all of this so His joy is in us. Not our joy. His! Literally within us. We are filled with it!

What is His joy? To obey, to do God’s will (Psalm 40:6, Hebrews 10:7).

In Verse 16, Jesus says a most remarkable thing. We don’t make a “decision for Christ.” He chooses us. Then He calls us.

Then, we either:

—continue to disobey God and remain under His wrath. (He has given us free will to receive or refuse Him.)

OR

—Receive God’s life and God’s love and changed hearts and He comes to abide (live) in us and we abide (live) in Him. Then we go. We do not sit. We go. We go and bear fruit.

The Lord said to me this morning, “Look up the word ‘go’.” It means we go at His leading. We do not just strike out with what seems logical to us. We do not simply go where we see a need. We go at His leading. His sap runs through us, His life and His love, and we want nothing but to glorify God through what He leads us to do.

We will know if we have gone at His leading. It will be easy, there will be open hearts. There will be redemption. We will see that God has already gone ahead of us, preparing works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

If we do not go at His leading, it will be like walking through wet cement up to your thighs. You will struggle, you will become tired, you will “burn out.”

So we go forward at His leading, bearing the fruit of God’s life and changed hearts, so others may freely receive what has been freely given to us.

What happens when we go? God works His works through us. We ask, and He does it.

And we love each other with this same agape, because we abide (live) in the true Vine, and His sap produces agape.

What are you producing? God knows. So do others, by your actions.

If you are not abiding, you don’t act like Jesus. He is lifting you up so you get more light now. He is a merciful Vinedresser. Agree with Him on the condition of your heart, and He will change it and give you His life and love.

If you are abiding, be ready for your Father, the Vinedresser, to continue His work. Your grapes will just get sweeter and sweeter as He prunes you, and His actual love will appear on you like grapes as big as a man.

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THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life — the means of access to the truth to which even pagan kings bow, and the resulting “life as God has it!”

[SW125] 1/24/14 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“The Way, the Truth and the Life”

John 14:1-6

There is an element of progression in Jesus’ statement in John 14:6, “I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life.” He is our means of access to God the Father, we learn the Truth about our hearts through Him (John 8:31-36), and He imparts His Life to us and lives through us.

But we must first see that He says He literally is the I AM, the Author of the Way, the Author of the Truth, and the Author of Life. It was never available before He came.

In the previous chapter, Jesus told Peter he would deny Him. Jesus sent Judas on his way to betray Him.
Then in John 14:1, He said to the disciples who remained, “Not your hearts be troubled.” The original text says “let not” but that is not accurate. It is a direct command from Jesus: Not be troubled!

How could they not be troubled, after what just happened? By believing the Father, and believing Jesus. By believing what He says, but also by believing into Him, entering into Him. And He will enter them, filling them with His Spirit, in Acts 2, and their hearts will no longer be troubled at all!

“I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus declares that He is divine, as with all the rest of the I AM statements I’ve explored in prior messages. His was the voice from the burning bush in Exodus 3, who told Moses to say, “I AM has sent you,” to His people who were slaves in Egypt.

The Way

Jesus Christ is the Way, One who is the means of access to the Father (Verse 6), that is God the Father who is the highest authority, above His Son and His Spirit. There was never a Way to the Father before, but Christ is that Way!

There was never a way for man to fully obey God and for a human heart to be fully devoted to God. God’s people, Israel, thought they could obey God, but came woefully short. But the prophets, who received words from God when the Holy Spirit came upon them, spoke of One to come who would be the Way to obedience, the One who would turn their stony hearts to hearts of flesh that would respond to God.

NOTE: In the Old Testament, God did declare some to be righteous who were careful to do as He commanded to the best of their ability (as with the prophets, King David, Job, and in Luke 1, Zechariah and Elizabeth), but they still needed Christ to do purify their hearts entirely.

God’s goal, in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, was that we would have fellowship with Him, with out sin separating us from Him.When we believe into Jesus Christ, the Way is made, the Way that never was available before Christ.

Only in Christ can fellowship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit be established. Most of the church does not teach that our hearts must be changed. They teach only forgiveness of sins (taught as “past, present and future”) and salvation. But that is misleading, and many in the church continue to willfully disobeying God, assuming He will forgive them. May it never be, as Paul says in Romans 6:2! In America, because so many in the church continue to sin, they remain separated from God.

Jesus Christ is the Way to fellowship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. No one can come to the Father but through Him. Only through Him can past sins be forgiven and hearts cleansed and purified. Only through Him can we have power over sin, becoming more than conquerors over it, so that we no longer willfully rebel against God. He is the Way.

The Truth

And He is the Truth. He is not “a” truth or some degree of truth. He is the I AM that came into the world. He is the truth of God. He is fidelity, reality, certainty, the reality behind this real, physical world that He created. There is a reality that is greater than our existence. Jesus Christ is the Truth, the reality of God.

God’s reality, His truth, was partially seen in the Old Testament, and the prophets foresaw from a distance the One who was coming to make it clear that God’s life is true life.

Many say, “Truth is whatever you want it to be. Make up your own truth.” But even pagan kings believe that God is truth when they see Him work His works. Daniel was a Jew in the Babylonian exile who had been raised up by God to be a counselor to King Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 4, written by Nebuchadnezzar himself, the king had a dream that he would lose all reason, all authority, and eat grass like cattle.

He asked Daniel to interpret the dream. Daniel said the dream would come to pass, and Nebuchadnezzar would remain that way until he recognizes that the God of Heaven rules. In Daniel 4:28 and 33, Nebucadnezzar testifies that the dream came true. He lost his mind and his authority, and ate grass like the cattle. But:

Daniel 4:34   “But at the end of  that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my  reason returned to me, and I blessed the  Most High and praised and honored  Him who lives forever;
For His dominion is an  everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 “ All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But  He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And  no one can  ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘ What have You done?’
36 “At that time my   reason returned to me. And my majesty and  splendor were  restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my  sovereignty, and surpassing  greatness was added to me.  37 “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of  heaven, for  all His works are  true and His ways  just, and He is able to humble those who  walk in pride.”

He raised his eyes to heaven and declared in Verse 37 that there is a King in heaven, the Most High, and His works are true (literally, truth). When God works His works, even pagan kings take notice that God is the one true God (this happens today, around the world, but rarely in the U.S. because the much of the church’s works here are not God works but works any man can do).

I tell you, beloved, that the church in America must stop doing man’s works and humble herself before God, asking Him to work His works in her, to cleanse and purify her heart, and through her, so pagan kings confess that God is Truth.

It is the same with God’s people today as it was when Elijah was on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:39 and surrounding verses). When God’s works were done, God’s people cried, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”

We must, like Nebuchadnezzar, confess our pride in our own ability, confess that He is the God of truth, and ask Him to do what is needed in us so we work His works and not ours.

Jesus Christ is God’s expression of His Truth. He is the divine Son, sent by God to be the Truth by which all mankind would be saved and given new hearts, if they would turn to Christ.

The Life

And Jesus Christ is the Life, the Author of eternal life, life as God has it, starting here and now. I’ve spoken of it before, and I will always speak of it — zoe, God’s life in us, when we enter into life through Jesus. There is no other life. All else is mere existence. We enter His life and His life enters us. And His life flows from us to others.

Jesus Christ is the Life that is a light that shines on men (John 1:4).  He has shone His light on you.

Now, what will you do with the light He has shone on you? In John 3:20-21, Jesus says one of two things will happen:  1)You will run from the light because you love your sin, even your pride in what you can do; 2) you will come into the light so that God can work His works in and through you, so even pagan kings must confess that Jesus Christ is the I AM, the Way and the Truth and the Life.

His light is here for you, and the Father will gladly do what only God can do if you ask Him!

THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE

[SW124] 1/18/14 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014

“The Resurrection and the Life”

When we turn from our sin and believe into Him, Jesus Christ makes us stand up from our mere existence and enter into His life!

Elijah raised the dead, Elisha raised the dead, Jesus raised the widow’s son at Nain as he was being carried to his grave, and Jesus gave the disciples the authority to raise the dead (see Matthew 10:8). So what is different about the story of Lazarus’ resurrection in John 11? All these were raised the same day they died.

We will see that Lazarus was dead in the tomb for four days. The Jews always buried their dead the same day they died. And Jews believed that after three days, the spirit left the body of the dead one and there was no hope of resurrection. We will see that Jesus waited until there was no hope, and then resurrected Lazarus!

I will speak of Lazarus’ resurrection, of the resurrection now available to all who believe into Jesus Christ, who enter through Him into life as God has it, eternal life, here and now. And I will talk about the final resurrection, at the end of things.

John 11

Lazarus was sick, even to the point of death. Martha and Mary sent a messenger to ask Jesus to come to Bethany to heal him. How did Jesus reply?

John 11:4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for  the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

And so He stayed two more days before coming to them. Then He told His disciples it was time to go to Bethany, where the Jews had threatened to kill Jesus.

He said to them,

John 11:11 . . .“Our  friend Lazarus  has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.”

The disciples didn’t understand that Jesus meant Lazarus was dead, so He had to speak it plainly to them in Verse 14.  In the next verse, He told them that they would believe because of what was about to happen.

When He arrived, Martha met Him:

John 11:21 Martha then said to Jesus, “ Lord,  if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  22 “Even now I know that  whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”  

She would never have said Verse 21 if she had believed Verse 4. She could not imagine how Jesus could possibly raise Lazarus, dead four days in a tomb.

Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha replied that knew that he would, on the last day, a reference to the end times when God will bring this current world to an end and establish a new heavens and a new earth.

Jesus replied:

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “ I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me  will never die. Do you believe this?” 

What did Jesus mean when He said I AM the Resurrection and the Life?

Resurrection (386) means to stand up again. It is resurrection from death. When He says I AM, He is saying He is God in the flesh, the One who spoke to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3.

I AM the Resurrection and the Life! He is the author of life (New Living Bible), the prince of life (Acts 3:15)!

Until Jesus Christ, there was no possibility of having resurrection and life. It was He who made it possible. God was doing the new thing that He described so many times through Isaiah!

He sent the perfect sacrifice, part of Himself, His very Son, to this earth so we may be resurrected here and now, and also in the last day. No one else could do it but His sinless Son.

Jesus Christ is the Prince of life as God has it, the Ruler of it, and the Author of it! It can come from no other source, no other god.

So when, in Verse 25, Jesus asked Martha if she believed that He was the I AM, that He was the Author of both Resurrection and Life, she did not answer His question:

John 11:27 She  said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” 

She answered that she believed He was the Christ and that He had come from God. But she did not believe that He was the Author of Resurrection and of Life, that nothing was impossible for God, and that those who live and believe into Him — who enter in, who turn from their sin and enter Jesus Christ, the Door — will never die but have eternal life. She believed God would do what Jesus asked Him to do, but she did not believe for the resurrection of Lazarus.

I tell you that the church is in the same state. We believe Jesus is the Christ, we believe that He was sent from God. But we do not believe He can resurrect us here and now into new life, life in Him, born from above.

We do not believe that we can have eternal life here and now, but that all these promises are for “after we die.” And we miss His great plan! His great plan is to give us a resurrection here and now, for us to be born again not only so we can enter the Kingdom of God, but so that we can have His kingdom set up in us, here and now, His life in us here and now, so we become witnesses of His greatness and mercy and power and life that has filled us to the full!

I return to John 11. Martha calls Mary to come to Jesus, and she says the same thing Martha did — if You’d been here, Lazarus would not have died. It was again a statement that she did not believe Verse 4. She did not see that He is the I AM, the Author of Resurrection and Life, and that when we enter into life in Him, we have been resurrected here and now, from mere existence to life as God has it, even eternal life.

In Verse 33, Jesus sees Mary weeping, and the Jews that followed her from her home. He was deeply moved, beloved. You must understand what this word means, beloved!

Deeply moved (1690) means to snort with anger, to be moved by anger. It was a righteous anger, a holy anger against the unbelief that was all around Him. He was troubled (5015), He was disturbed. But all of their unbelief, and all of the unbelief in today’s church, will not keep God from accomplishing His plan. It goes forth, regardless of the weakness of our faith.

Beloved, we must be like the man whose son had fits, who said to Jesus, “I believe! Help my unbelief,” in Mark 9:24. He asks us to do that today!

He asks where Lazarus has been laid, and then, in Verse 35, He weeps. He was not sad over the death of Lazarus, because He was doing just what the Father told Him to do — wait four days, until Lazarus’ situation is hopeless, and then go and reveal the Father’s glory and be glorified by it, Son! He had no reason to weep out of sadness that Lazarus died. He knew what He was about to do. He is the I AM, the Author of Resurrection, and the Author of Life!

He wept because of their unbelief. It is the same today, in the church. He weeps when you say He cannot do what seems impossible to you.

The Jews (and the church) misinterpret Jesus — we say He wept because He was sad. Some ask, “Why didn’t He come sooner? He healed the man born blind. Couldn’t He come and heal Lazarus?”

But they do not realize, though He has told them, that Jesus Christ does not initiate anything on His own. He has no plans of His own. He only does what He sees the Father doing, says what the Father is saying, and obeys Him. God the Father and Jesus Christ who is God the Son are glorified, beloved, when we only do what the Father is doing, say what the Father is saying, and obey Him.

Jesus ordered the stone to be removed. And again, Martha answered in unbelief, saying Lazarus rotting body would stink.

And so Jesus was deeply moved again, in Verse 38. He snorted with righteous anger, was moved with anger.

I tell you, beloved, it does not make any difference how long you have been in your “mere existence,” how rotten you have become, how much you have decayed,  Jesus is able to raise you up, to make you stand up, to resurrect you and give you eternal life, here and now! Hallelujah!

The stone was removed, and Jesus called for Lazarus to come out. And he did! He could not help but do it, because the I AM, the Author of Resurrection and Life, commanded Him to come out!

We must see that this is for us, for today. He is still the I AM, the Author of Resurrection and Life.

In Ephesians 1:18-23, Paul prays for the Ephesian church to realize this. All of the blessings of God had been made theirs when they believed into Jesus Christ, turning from their sin and entering through the Door which is Christ. But they had no power. They were not full. If they were, Paul would not have prayed:

Ephesians 1:18 I pray that  the eyes of your heart  may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the  hope of His  calling, what are  the riches of the glory of  His inheritance in  the  saints,  19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.  These are in accordance with the working of the  strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He  raised Him from the dead and  seated Him at His right hand in  the heavenly places, 21 far above  all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every  name that is named, not only in  this age but also in the one to come.  22 And He  put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as  head over all things to the church,  23 which is His  body, the  fullness of Him who fills all in all. 

What do these words mean? Paul is praying for them to grab onto resurrection power, the power God used to raise Christ from the dead (Verse 20)! They have not yet done it.

Paul prays for them to be filled full, full of the Holy Spirit (Verse 23)! They are not yet filled, as evidenced by Paul’s exhortations — you were this, but now you are to be that. You were sinners, but now you are to turn from it. They had not come into life.

They had been awakened, they were converted, but they had not come into the fullness, the full meaning, of this resurrection and life, and that is to have the Author of these things in them, ruling and reigning, when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, when they have surrendered their rights and entire selves to God (Romans 12:1-2), a whole burnt offering, the old burned up by the baptism of fire Christ gives!

As Paul exhorts in Ephesians 5:14, and this is the literal translation,

“Arise, sleeping one, an stand up form the dead ones, and Christ will shine on you.”

Some of those in the church at Ephesus were still sleeping! They had not experienced nor do they ask for the resurrection power and life that the Author died to give them.

It is the same in the church today. Many have not come into the fullness of God, many have the head knowledge Martha and Mary and the Jews had, many have missed the truth that there is a here-and-now resurrection, and here-and-now eternal life, as well as when our bodies fall away and we are free to soar up to be with the Lord, as Paul implies in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. While we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (from being literally with Him in heaven), and that when our bodies fall away, we are at home with the Lord, literally with Him in heaven.

But there is a final resurrection, even of our bodies, from the I AM, the Author of Resurrection and Life!

1 Thessalonians 4:13   But  we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who  are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do  the rest who have  no hope.  14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,  even so God will bring with Him  those who have fallen asleep  in Jesus.  15 For this we say to you  by the word of the Lord, that  we who are alive  and remain until  the coming of the Lord, will not precede  those who have fallen asleep.  16 For the Lord  Himself  will descend from heaven with a   shout, with the voice of  the archangel and with the  trumpet of God, and  the dead in Christ will rise first.  17 Then  we who are alive  and remain will be  caught up together with them  in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always  be with the Lord.  18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Comfort means “encourage!” Encourage each other! Look! Those who have entered into life in Christ, who die before He returns, will rise again. Their resurrection bodies will be as different from the original as a seed is from what it produces (see 1 Corinthians 15:37 and 44). But there will be a resurrection from the seed of our dead bodies that are in the ground!

And for those of us who are still alive when Christ returns, we will be snatched up in the air, and will rise to meet Him, and shall always be with Him! This is the final resurrection!

If you are looking at this video and you see Christ and come to Him, come all the way in. Do not stop at mental assent, at head knowledge, at agreeing that the Bible is true. Ask Him to work His resurrection power and eternal life here and now, in you!

His grace is here for you today, you who are like Martha and the rest. God’s plan will go forth, regardless of the unbelief of the church.

But hear His voice today! Enter into life in Christ, and be resurrected so you can give glory to God and to Christ, just as Lazarus’ resurrection did, back when Jesus walked the earth.Then you will be His witnesses. That is your purpose here!

 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

[SW123] 1/11/14 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“The Good Shepherd”

(These are just brief notes that I wrote after the message; there is much more if you watch it on Vimeo.)

Ezekiel 34:11-15   God’s promise, but keep your place there, because I think the Lord will take us back to Ezekiel 34.

John 10  God’s promise fulfilled by Jesus Christ!

Context:

The Jewish leaders had just rebuked Jesus Christ for healing a man born blind, because He did it on a sabbath, the day of rest when absolutely nothing was to be done. They rebuked Him for doing something no one had ever done before in history — he healed a man who was born blind, not one who became blind later, but one born without the ability to see.

It was truly only something God could do! By rebuking Him, the Jewish leaders denied that Jesus was God in the flesh.

And so Jesus says, in John 10:1, “Truly, truly . . .”  He is telling them truth, He is saying “Amen, amen,” He is saying, “Believe!” There are those who are thieves and robbers who have climbed over the fencing where the sheep are kept, and have stolen sheep.

In Matthew 21:13, Jesus clearly identifies those who have made the Temple of God a place of shady business deals that cheat people coming to make offerings to God. The leaders of Israel, and those who work for them, have made the house of God a house where robbers live and plan their next caper!

But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. There are two ways sheep are protected at night:

1)    In cities and towns, there were large sheep pens that contained several shepherds’ flocks. In the morning, each shepherd would come and call his sheep, and his sheep (and no others) would come out of the pen and follow him, because they knew his voice. Another shepherd could dress up in that shepherd’s clothing, but the sheep still would not follow the stranger. It was the voice, not the appearance, that they followed.

2) In the fields, the shepherd would protect his sheep by  building a hedge, usually of thorn bushes, to deter any wild beast from coming over it to grab a sheep and run off with it and eat it. The shepherd left an entrance open for the sheep to go in, and then he himself laid down in that space. Thus, he laid down his life in order to protect the sheep from being stolen and eaten. He fought off  wild beasts that tried to attack him in order to get to the sheep.

So the one who enters the sheep pen in a city or town, that one is a shepherd. The doorkeeper opens, and he calls his own sheep, and they follow him because they know his voice. These sheep won’t follow a stranger’s voice, because they do not know his voice, only their shepherd’s. They know his voice, and that word “know” means a full knowledge. There is no hesitation; they gladly follow!

The disciples and the Jewish leaders and the crowd didn’t understand. So Jesus spoke plainly, saying:

I am the Door! I am the One who lays down His life for the sheep! And what about all those religious leaders who said you must follow rules and dot i’s and cross t’s but never ask the Lord to change your heart? They are thieves and robbers. Personal gain is their motive. They use false scales and rob, they make money on rule-following. They take from you what is of ultimate importance — entrance into life as God has it, eternal life! But Jesus says His sheep refused to heed these false teachers.

Then He repeats that He is the Door. Just as in the fields, His sheep will freely go out and come into the pen He has made for them, and He will lead them to good pasture, the very best pasture. He will feed them His truth, and His truth will set them free, indeed!

But the thief, those false teachers and Satan who is behind their teaching, they have come to steal the truth from the sheep, to kill them and eat them. They have come for personal gain, for prestige, for power, for selfish reasons. Their teaching will make them rich and send their followers to hell.
In stark contrast, Jesus says He has come that the sheep who follow Him will have life, zoe, life as God has it, abundantly, superabundantly, until it overflows! Oh, yes, His life will overflow you if you enter into life in Him. You will see that you merely existed before, once His life comes into you!

He is the good shepherd. He is not a hireling, who does not care for the sheep. He takes care of you, He leads you out and brings you into great spiritual nutrition, to places of rest, where you rest from your own works and let God do His through you.

Hirelings, when they see trouble coming, will flee, because they’re in it for their own gain. They really don’t care about you. Then you’re wide open for wild beasts to carry you off.

God speaks to today’s hirelings in Ezekiel 34, starting in Verse 1. Today, the Lord prophesies through me to the shepherds of the church who are hirelings. Woe to you, hirelings, for you have fed yourselves and not the sheep! You are in it for personal gain, prestige, and power. You do not love the sheep, but you love the money they give you. You love being famous. You love the power that comes from that.

Hirelings, the Lord says you shear the best sheep — the fat ones — and you eat them. You do not feed them. They feed you. Hireling, you have not done Isaiah 61. If Christ was in you, you most assuredly would. But He is not, so you do not. You have scattered My flock, says the Lord, but I will gather them.

They will hear My voice. They will get to know it in My word. They will know Me (John 10:14), and I will know them, in holy intimacy, in relationship, experien-tially, they will know Me by experiencing Me. And they will have the choice to turn from following hirelings, and return to Me. I will gather My sheep to Myself.

Beware, O church, of hirelings. You cannot tell who they are if you are not in the Word, knowing the voice of Jesus Christ who is the true and Good Shepherd! He is the Door who laid down His life and took it back up again so you may not only have life as God has it, but His resurrection power in you. See Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1, when Paul calls the Ephesians to know experientially God’s resurrection power by being filled with His Holy Spirit!

The Door, Jesus Christ, gives His life for you that this may happen. The Father loves Him because He lays down His life. And it is not just for Israel that He does it, but for those who are not of Jewish blood lines — those who are often called Gentiles, in the Bible. The Gentiles, and Jews who believe in Christ, will be one flock, and He will shepherd them. They will know His voice, and run from the voices of the hirelings and the voice of Satan himself!

Just as Jesus lays down His life of His own initiative, so must we. He says we must lose our lives to gain His life, not by literally dying, but by turning away from mere existence and toward life as God has it, by believing into, by moving through, the Door and into life!

Pilate had no authority over Jesus. The Jewish leaders who cried out for Him to be crucified had no authority over Him. God the Father gave God the Son authority to lay down His life of His own accord, and to take it back up again. He was commanded to do it, and He was an obedient Son!

In John 10: 25-28, Jesus responds to the Jews who came against Him for healing a man born blind on the sabbath. He has told them He is the Christ, the Son of God, by what He has done. No one but God could heal a man born blind! He says, “Believe the works I do!”

But He also says that there are some who won’t believe, because they have chosen not to. They are not His sheep, not because He excludes anyone. God says that He doesn’t desire any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But some will refuse. It is sad, but it is true.

The sheep that are Christ’s hear His voice. They heed it. He knows them experientially, in a holy intimacy, and they know Him in the same way.

He is the Good Shepherd, and He says to those who are listening to hirelings that tickle their ears, “Come!”

He is the Good Shepherd, and He says to those in the world, “Come!”

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

The Light of Jesus Christ is in the world even now, in those who follow Him, and we are like bonfires in the ever-increasing darkness! An encouragement to those who have His light, and a wake-up call to those who don’t.

[SW121] 12/28/2013 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“The Light of the World”

John 8:12   Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “ I am the Light of the world;  he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. He is not just the Light of a select few, but of the whole world.

And His light is in the world now, not just when He walked the earth.

He died and rose again on our behalf, and He therefore lives — He is a living God, the Son of God the Father. He is the same yesterday and today and forever, and He continues to be the Light of the world.

He says that those who follow Him have and possess His light. Those who follow Him have His light in them. Praise God!

But we must understand what “follow” means. Does it mean simply to walk behind? No, it means those who have His light in them are those who obey Him (John 14:23)! For those, He and the Father come in, and their light and their love comes in! Their character comes in! Their power and glory comes in!

But if we do not obey Him, we do not love Him, and His light cannot be in us (see John 14:24). We cannot walk in the darkness of sin and have fellowship with God:

1John 1:5    This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that  God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  6  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we  lie and  do not practice the truth;

If we do not obey Him, we sin. Sin is darkness, and we cannot have His Light in us and also have darkness in us. Again, if we do not obey Him, we do not love Him. His light comes into those who follow Him. Those who follow Him, obey Him. If you do not obey Him, you do not follow Him, and you do not have His light in you.

Again, how does He reveal that He is the Light of the world, when He is no longer walking the earth? He does it supernaturally:

Not only does His Light shine from those who obey Him, for He makes us bonfires in the extreme darkness of these days, but He shines his light through revelations of  Himself in dreams and vision.

He does this to many, in Muslim nations, in Hindu nations, in all nations. Reports have come in from all over the world. How kind He is to show Himself to those who do not know Him! How great is God’s love, that He would give us His Son, Jesus Christ, if we will only believe into Him!

O Church! The Lord’s promise to you is this, if you will obey! O world, the Lord’s promise to you is this, if you will believe into Jesus Christ!

Isaiah 60:1   “ Arise, shine; for your  light has come,
And the  glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
2 “For behold,  darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the LORD will rise upon you
And His  glory will appear upon you.
3 “ Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.

The Lord God speaks through the prophet Isaiah to promise that you will have a Light who has come, and Whose glory will broken out upon you, Whose Light literally will literally come into you!

Deep darkness covers the peoples, but His Light will shine through you. Indeed, if you obey Him, you love Him, and He and the Father come and dwell permanently within you. Jesus speaks this in John 14:23, in the context of the Holy Spirit, who will come to dwell in those who love and therefore obey Christ. Your light will be so bright that kings and nations come to it!

We who have His light in us are, in the darkness of these days, like stars in the universe, holding out the word of life (Philippians 2:15-16). Life — not existence, like we all begin with, but eternal life, zoe, life as God has it, starting here and now.

We hold out to those in the darkness the word of this life — the message that Jesus Christ is alive and is still the Giver of eternal life!

There are those in the world who reject Jesus Christ entirely. They have been blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). They run from the Light that is Christ, because His light reveals their evil deeds.

What is the god of this world? Satan has been given power in this world, he is the prince of the power of the air. He tempts and they sin.

But the god of this world is also more than that, I believe. There is a spirit of this world that draws people to look to the world as if it is a god, rather than to the God who created it. They depend on the strength of men, and on dead gods who can’t speak or see or smell or feel or walk (see Psalm 115). These “gods” are supposedly pleased when they do evil things.

They are gods of this world. At least one of the Hindu gods requires men to to have sex with children in order to be fertile and prosperous!

This does not please the living God! But why does He not turn them? They have chosen to reject Him, and have thus been blinded by the god of this world. God did not blind them — they were blinded by their own choice, when they rejected Christ in favor of the god of this world.

But there are those in the church who run from the Light that is Christ, because His light reveals their evil deeds. There are those in the pews who do not follow Him, but rather, they still rebel against God. They, too, are blinded by the god of this world.

These have caused the light of the church-as-a-whole to be dim, indeed. The church has become a butt of jokes in the world because so many who say they follow Christ are no different than those who walk in the darkness. They do what the world does, for they follow the god of this world.

To these, He says that if the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness (see Matthew 6:22-23)! Oh, turn from your sin, turn from your rebellion against your God, and behold the Light of Christ!

Walk into Christ’s light, and you will find He will forgive you and then cleanse your heart, plucking out the old stony one that refused to change, and giving you a heart of flesh that responds to His every whisper!

Now is the hour — there is little time left. The time is short, indeed! I believe it is much shorter than the 20 years I might have left in my lifespan. I believe He is coming very, very soon. Do not delay. Do not be deceived. Come into the Light!

For those of you who carry His light inside you, know that you have a great promise from the Lord God, for not only do you have His light now, but a day is coming when:

Isaiah 60:19 “No longer will you have the  sun for light by day,
Nor for brightness will the moon give you light;
But you will have the  LORD for an everlasting light,
And your  God for your  glory.

This has a two-fold meaning, for the everlasting light of the Lord is in you now, and you do have that light, and you do have His glory. But there will come a time, beloved, when He will call you to bask in His light forever:

Revelation 22:1   Then  he [one of the seven angels] showed me a  river of the  water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of  the Lamb,  2 in the middle of  its street.  On either side of the river was  the tree of life, bearing twelve  kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  3  There will no longer be any curse; and  the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will  serve Him;  4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their  foreheads.

5 And  there will no longer be any night; and they  will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:6   And  he said to me, “ These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the  God of the spirits of the prophets,  sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.

No more curse that came from Adam’s sin. The throne of the Lord not only in our hearts, but also with us externally. We who are His bond-servants, those who serve out of love even after the debt has been paid, able to see His face clearly, fully knowing even as we are fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).

There will be continuous light emanating from God, bathing us. And we will reign with Him, called sons and daughters of God because we have believed into Jesus Christ and He has entered into us!

These things must take place soon:

Revelation 22:7   “And behold,  I [Christ] am coming quickly.  Blessed is he who  heeds  the words of the prophecy of this book.”

He is coming quickly. There is no time to say, “Well, maybe I will obey later.”

He will come quickly, even in the twinkling of an eye. The trumpet will sound!
And we who are alive at that time will be snatched up in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and we shall always be with the Lord. What a day that will be!

Repent now, those in the pews and in the world who walk in the darkness! Wake up, O sleeper, and stand up from among the dead ones, and Christ will shine on you (Ephesians 5:14)!