Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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I AM the Good Shepherd 10.4.2015
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

In our journey through the Gospel of John, we have heard Jesus speak of how He is the I AM. He has said: "I AM the Bread of Life," and "I AM the Light of the Word." In identifying Himself as "I AM", He was stating that He is the God that Moses encountered when he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. (Exodus 3:1-15) When Moses asked God as to what he should tell the people of Israel as to who has sent him to deliver them, he was told to say, "I AM has sent me to you."

Now we hear Him speak of His being "I AM the Door of the Sheep" and "I AM the Good Shepherd."

Those to whom He is speaking to were very familiar with the metaphor of shepherd and sheep as the Scriptures (Old Testament) that they were familiar with were filled with references of a shepherd referring to a leader and sheep referring to those who are under the guidance of a shepherd. The most familiar passage would be the 23rd Psalm, which begins with these resounding words: "The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want."

As we continue to walk along with our Lord as He is being revealed through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John, we note that there continues to be those who believe what He is saying and seem to want to hear more and there are those who are not accepting Him and His Godness. We see this at the end of our text today with these words:

John 10:19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words.
20 Many of them said, "He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?"
21 Others said, "These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

In this message I want to present the historical basis of this text (John 10:1-21) and then using the 23rd Psalm offer some encouragement to us all who are often times in need of assurance, of comfort and of hope. May the Lord bless both the writing and the reading of this message.

The conversation that we are listening to had begun back in John 8:12 when Jesus said "I AM the light of the world, he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Jesus has meticulously explained to them of what this means, had challenged their claim that they were Abraham's children because they did not do the works of Abraham, had told them that because of their desire to kill Him their father was the devil!! Wow!! They accused Him of having a demon, and when He told them: "Before Abraham was, I AM," they picked up stones to throw at Him. Since it was not yet "His time," Jesus easily escaped again from their fury. But...the time of reckoning with sin was coming......it would come on the cross....

In chapter 9, Jesus used the healing of a blind man from birth to try to bring home to the Pharisees of the reality of their blindness so that they would come to "see" who He was and that He had come to rescue them from their sin. Jesus was calling them to come to the light (Himself) so that they would not continue to walk in darkness. We place the application/conclusion to the encounter with the man who now sees clearly, both physically and spiritually.

John 9: 39 Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind."
40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, "Are we also blind?"
41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains.

Text Exposition John 10:1-21 (Please read those verses)
Jesus then begins chapter 10 with word pictures using the shepherd/sheep metaphor to the end that those who are not yet seeing would see and that those who are seeing would be able to see more clearly. He presents the parable in verses 1-6 and then explains it to those present in verses 7-18 and then John describes the response/reaction to those who were listening to Jesus.

Jesus made two "I AM" statements that those who were not "seeing" would take great exception to:

ESV John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

ESV John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

He also contrasted Himself as the door and as the good shepherd with those who are thieves and robbers. (10:10,12-13) While He came to give life to the sheep by dying for them, those who were hirelings were more devoted to themselves and their welfare than about the sheep. Even with a small bit of biblical history one can hear echoing in the air at this encounter the voice of the scriptures from the Old Testament in which those who had been placed as shepherds over God's people had not acted as the True Shepherd had called them to do. So, many hearing this parable would have been growing very uncomfortable at hearing our Lord contrast these two types of shepherds, as they listened to and thought over what He was saying.

The Holy Spirit directed John to focus on the Jews (leaders of Jewish faith) as they were the ones especially to whom Jesus was trying to bring to the light, and we see that some were at the very least caused to wonder about what they had heard. Many continued in their blindness by rejecting Him, saying He has a demon and calling Him insane, and then capping it all off: "Why listen to Him?" Others made the statement that these are not the words of one who is oppressed by a devil, and asked a question for all to consider, "Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

Now, how about some application for us in our lives? How does this message that seems to be pointed at some church elders of years ago fit into our lives today?

The two I AM's by Jesus are the key to understanding this entire dialogue.

ESV John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

ESV John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Unless we have entered into relationship with God through the door (Christ) and have come to accept the death of this same Christ as payment for our sin debt, we will yet be outside of His sheepfold/kingdom. King David understood this when he wrote the two psalms, 22 and 23 that need to be taken together as a whole. Let me explain as to what I mean.

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

Even tho he wrote these psalms about 1000 years before the time of Jesus' birth on earth, through the Holy Spirit he prophesied of words that Jesus would speak on the cross when He was experiencing the forsaking of His Father because of our sin.

KJV Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Do you understand what is going on here? What is being presented through the scriptures is that it is not possible to know the Good Shepherd (God) without coming to Him through Christ and receiving the benefit of His sacrifical death. That is why the 23rd Psalm becomes rich with the meaning of grace when we read it together with Psalm 22. With the rejection of Christ and His saving work for us, Psalm 23 loses its depth of meaning. So now, let us take a brief look at Psalm 23, in light of knowing that as sinners we have received grace to pardon our sins and iniquities.

ESV Psalm 23:1 A PSALM OF DAVID.The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Wow!!! Our biggest need is not the things of this life, but our biggest need has been taken care of by Christ, for through Him we are forgiven, we are free from the guilt of sin and the power of sin. We are alive in Him!!!!!

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
He is the one who takes care of us, sometimes He "makes" us to lie down in green pastures, through sickness, through trial, through difficulty, he "forces" us to rest to to be fed by Him. He does not always have to force us, but He goes ahead of us by example leading us into quiet times with Him in His Word, in fellowship, in prayer, under the hearing of the Word, and so on.

3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
When we are discouraged due to our wandering away from Him or due to other's rejecting of us in various ways, He comes to pick us up, for often times we are not able to pick ourselves up. Even as a sheep when fallen into a despression in the ground cannot get up on its own, often times we need someone to come along to pick us up so that we may continue. Upon restoring us, He leads us according to His ways, so that His name might be honored in our life.

4 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.
Please note how the writer changes from third person to second person by going from "he" to "you". This is no small matter, for it is now a very personal and warm conversation between David/ourselves and his/our Shepherd. When going through the valleys of life that seem to lead to death, we will fear no evil, because you are near. You never leave us, because You are committed to us as your sheep.. The promises of the scrlptures assure us of these truths, that You with us for the long haul. Whatever we might have to go through, You have already gone through it, for You were tried in all things, but You never yielded to temptation.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
You bring us comfort in the most impossible situations, even as You did for the children of the Exodus who were led from Egypt across the Red Sea by Moses. You told them to slay a lamb, place its blood on the door post and to stay in the house all night so that the angel of death would "passover" the house that your people were in.

You prepared a table for your disciples the night that you were betrayed by one of your own, you spoke of giving your body and blood for them for the forgiveness of their sins, you come to us in your Holy Supper to assure us, to encourage us and to empower us in faith for our journey through this shadow of death. As you draw us nearer to your bleeding side, faith that sometimes is like a smoldering reed or a bruised reed begins to burn brighter and brighter as you minister your love and grace to us. Upon this experience of grace of your anointing us with the oil of your love in the Spirit, our cup overflows with assurance, with confidence, with thanksgiving and with praise to the Lamb who took away our sins.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

When our eyes are opened to what you have done for us on the cross, so that we come to know the forgiveness that your Father sent you to win for us, can we say anything else but what David cried out in the last verse of Psalm 23?

Wait, wait..You might be thinking, how David say that? Or, better, how can I relate to that last sentence? Lord,don't you know that I am struggling with a debilitating progressive disease, don't you know know that my spouse has a sickness that is not getting better, don't you know that I am struggling with temptations, don't you know that my marriage is struggling, don't you know that I am still grieving over losing one of my children, don't you know that my child is struggling with addiction/ is away from you, don't you know that I recently lost my spouse, don't you know that I have no friends in school, don't you know that I lost my job and so on?

How can I believe these words for myself? What can you say to me today, Lord? I am so discouraged.

I AM the door of the sheep, I AM your Good Shepherd, and I have given my life for your life. You are living in Me, I am all that you need and I will take care of you through your dark valleys that sometimes seem endless. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is the glory of Myself in heaven. I do not expect you to understand all that has come into your life, but know this, that all things work together for the good to those who love Me and are the called according to My purpose.

Be assured of this today, You will dwell in My house forever!!

Posted on 04 Oct 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
I AM the light of the world 9.27.2015
Dear friend,
Grace and mercy from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you now and always, Amen.
Word of the Lord: John 8:12-30

During the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) there was a great ceremony called the "Illumination of the Temple," which involved the ritual lighting of four golden oil-fed lamps in the Court of Women. These lamps were huge menorahs/candelabras (seventy-five feet high) lighted in the Temple at night to remind the people of the pillar of fire that had guided Israel in their wilderness journey. All night long the light shone their brilliance, it is said, illuminating the entire city.
In celebration and anticipation, the holiest of Israel's men danced and sang psalms of joy and praise, before the Lord. This festival was a reminder that God had promised to send a light, the Light, to a sin-darkened world. God promised to send the Messiah to renew Israel's glory, release them from bondage, and restore their joy. Imagine that you are in ancient Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles. Visualize seeing these massive menorahs giving a tremendous amount of light. Now imagine the impact of the words said by Jesus in the Temple courtyard when he announced, "I am the Light of the world."

8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. Let us then read from verse 13 through verse 30.

There is not much disagreement among most that Jesus existed as a historical figure, but very few will allow Him to be God. As long as we approach Jesus from any other point of view than faith, we will never see the real Jesus. Faith is connected with the receiving of the Holy Spirit, Who then testifies of Jesus from the Scriptures. This is the point that He is bringing them to, but they say, your record is not true. Unbelief will always seek to discredit the record of Truth.

Explanation of the Text
13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.

They are thinking according to their own intellect and mind, as opposed to Jesus receiving everything from HIs father in heaven. They really do not know what He is all about, for they are only able to understand based on their knowledge and experience of their learning to date. .

When we seek to know Truth, are we seeking out of faith, or are we stuck within the system that we already possess?
Faith and the Holy Spirit are connected and only when we die to our own self directed efforts, we begin to live.

Their minds are made up, He cannot be the Messiah, but they cannot deny that He does wonderful things. So what they are doing it trying to come up with a way that he can exist, but only in a way that they will allow him to exist.

19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.

Did they ask this in ignorance? Were they referring to Joseph, who by now had died? In his answer, He told them that they are judging based on their knowledge, but Jesus is telling them that they know neither He or His Father, for if they had known Him, they would have known the Father. It is a question of faith.The proper understanding can only come from God, and not from within ourselves. We can enshrine the reality that there is a Jesus, but until Jesus becomes a reality to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, we cannot know him. Otherwise He remains a product of our inventive minds, and not of faith

Wow! He tells them that He is going, that they are going to try to figure out what happened to Him, and then He tells them that they will die in their sins. The statement by Jesus should have stricken them with the fear of death, but they are silent as far as any response. They discussed as to what Jesus meant, but did not 'hear' the judgment against them in their sin.

22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Now He tells them the reason that they will die in their sins, because they do not believe in Him!! Rather then Jesus himself being killed, Jesus tells them that they are killing themselves. He is introducing the issue of faith, for if they do not believe they are actually killing themselves. He appeals to their sense of preservation, they say he is killing Himself, but really what is happening is that they are killing themselves.

At first glance, it seems like Jesus is being repetitious, but wait, He is pouring out onto them the waters of grace by which they may escape the judgment that is due their sins. Pleae note as to how He said, I said therefore (already said in verse 21) that ye shall die in your sins, but then He makes the offer of grace to them by saying, for if you believe not that I AM he, ye shall die in your sins.

This is the high point of this text today, in that Jesus is extending grace to them with the hope that they will receive Him, for in receiving/believing Him and His Words of grace and truth, they will be given the power to become the sons of God. (John 1:12) It is nearly impossible to overstate the gracious and gathering heart of God towards the creation that He made in His own image, and which He brought/bought back to Himself through the offering of His Son on the cross. How would one illustrate the love that beats in His heart for us as well as in the heart of His Son, and consequently then in our hearts for those who are yet walking in darkness?

25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.

28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.

They will understand who Jesus is at the cross, not before. When He is lifted up, they will see Him in His purpose and mission to the world. By His saying this, it shows that some of them will be present. This knowledge will come because of the Holy Spirit's presence in their lives. This presence is the light of life, who dwells in us.

I am the Light of the World, He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

In Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 27 Sep 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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I AM the Good Shepherd 10.4.2015
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns