Dispensing Love John 13:1-17; 31-35

Dear friend in Christ.

Isn't it wonderful to awake in the morning with a song in our heart which at first we don't even realize that we are singing praises to our Creator and Redeemer!! By God's grace and favor I often find myself singing the hymns and songs that are embedded in my heart as the result of those who loved me and attempted to teach about the love of God through Jesus Christ. I often hear my wife whistling various hymns as she moves about our home in the peace of the Lord.

This morning the hymn To God Be The Glory was coming from within my soul, and especially the chorus which goes like this:

Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, let the people rejoice! O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.

Our text is from John's Gospel, from the 13th chapter which is about Jesus demonstrating in a very practical manner His servanthood in humility. He loved the world (ALL) and gave Himself for us, so that we would not die, but that we would live, Again there would be much to say, but it is not possible to expand too much on this wonderful example of the One who came to serve and not to be served. His love never quits.....

KJV John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

Love is both an emotion and an action, as is spelled out in John 3:16, In 1 Corinthians 13 we read of the following.....

ESV 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,but have not love, I gain nothing.

Our Good Shepherd John 10.1-30 , Psalm 23

Dear friend in Christ!

May the Peace of God that surpasses all human reason and understanding be yours through Jesus Christ, the revelation of God in the last times. Amen.

Our text of meditation today is found in John's Gospel in the 10th chapter and is part of a long teaching by our Lord which began already back in the 8th chapter with these words:

KJV John 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.

How many of us would ask a physically blind person, who has never seen with natural vision to describe that the beauties of nature? Of course, we would not do that, for one who has been blind has no reality to relate to the things that we physically see and enjoy. Jesus here is beginning a long discussion about what reality is, spiritually speaking, pointing to Himself as the One who gives "sight" to the "blind." He essentially is saying that only through Him is one able to see what is real or what is Truth.

He then uses a man blind from birth to illustrate what "seeing' is, by, restoring the sight to the blind man and then in the latter part of chapter 9 "restoring' his spiritual sight. The no longer man (physically as well as spiritually) in response to Jesus' question as to whether he believes, simply said, "I believe."

Jesus then spoke to those who thought that they see, but were yet blind as to His being their Saviour. making this statement:

KJV John 9:39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?

41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.(The state of blindness in this sense would mean that we can't see of ourselves, and that we need His Light to be able to see reality of who we are without Him and who He is for us and in us in His completed work of redemption).

The Pharisees who asked Jesus as to whether they were blind also (according to the Greek construction) expected to hear Jesus say that they were not blind, but as usual Jesus made a statement that descended beyond the surface by going into their hearts so that they would consider the question within themselves. Jesus assists them by then speaking in a figure of speech or a parable in the 10th chapter. Through this parable He was inviting them to place them selves in the parable and in the end make the correct deduction as to how well they were really "seeing." May we do the same.

KJV John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.

7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

19 There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.

20 And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?

21 Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?

22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.

23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.

24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.

26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

30 I and my Father are one.

I will make just a few points on this text, as it is very easy to follow in light of its context. Jesus is firstly speaking in response to the Pharisee's question about blindness, He gives them the contrast between a shepherd and a hireling, then points to Himself as both the entry to the sheepfold (kingdom) and as the Good Shepherd who gives his life for the sheep. The key verse seems to be verse 27 in which He says "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me. To those He goes onto give great assurance as we read in verses 28 and 29. He gives eternal life to us, we shall never perish and no one is able to pluck them out of his hand or from His father's hand, for He and His Father are one.

Wow, what words of assurance, which we as well as many others in need of often times in these struggles of life on our way to heaven together. Our Psalm reading today was from the most oft read and most quoted Psalm 22 and in order to bring this message closer to us I would like to share a bit on that wonderful psalm.

KJV Psalm 23:1 <A Psalm of David.> The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I

will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

The most often prayed psalm begins with the most important truth for life, that Jesus is our Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep (that is us guys), and we have been rescued from curse of death and hell which ultimately is the darkest and most horrible alone place we could ever imagine being. We not only have been rescued from death and eternal torment, but we are assured that through believing and trusting in Jesus, we have life in abundance and we live and will live in the house of the Lord (where He is) forever and forever.

The guy who wrote the psalm was a sheep herder, so he learned about himself as a sheep by watching the sheep and how the sheep depended entirely upon their shepherd to provide water and grass for them, to lift them up when they fell into a hole, to lead them in the good ways of life, and through the tunnels of life in which everything is dark, He assures us that we are walking through the tunnel and not into a dead end black passageway with no light at the end.

For with His rod and staff He comforts, guides and protects us, with the rod and staff being compared to His Word and His Spirit. Even in the presence of enemies, He has there prepared a table for the sheep (again, this is us guys) to eat and to drink of that which our Good Shepherd supplies for us according to His promises and which we receive by faith. He pours the oil of the Holy Spirit of grace and love upon our head and into our minds so that we maintain an upward look to God and not downward to the pessimism that pervades our minds and hearts at times. It is only through trusting God when we cannot see the end of things that our heart is filled with hope of the future, which at times seems pretty hopeless and impossible to see any good in it.

John Bunyan in His classic Pilgrim's Progress has a scene that will illustrate this very well.

26. A Fire Burning Against the Wall

Then I saw in my dream, that the Interpreter took Christian by the hand, and led him into a place where was a Fire burning against the wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it, to quench it; yet did the Fire burn higher and hotter.

Then said Christian, What means this?

The Interpreter answered, This Fire is the Work of Grace that is wrought in the heart; he that casts water upon it, to extinguish and put it out, is the Devil: But in that you see the Fire notwithstanding burn higher and hotter, you will also see the reason of that. So he had him about to the backside of the wall, where he saw a Man with a Vessel of Oil in his hand, of which, he did also continually cast (but secretly) into the Fire.

Then said Christian, What means this?

The Interpreter answered, This is Christ, who continually with the Oil of His Grace maintains the work already begun in the heart: By the means of which, notwithstanding what the Devil can do, the souls of His peo

ple prove gracious still. And in that you saw, that the Man stood behind the wall to maintain the Fire; this is to teach you, That it is hard for the Tempted to see how this Work of Grace is maintained in the soul.

The most difficult part of this psalm is when it says, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” when we are in a valley of pain or gloom or even despair and we wonder, ‘how can this be your goodness, Lord, that I am suffering all this pain as a result of what happened a number of years ago?” As a pastor I am very careful to not explain this verse away and to say something that is wrong or even misleading.

What I do attempt to help people in these situations to understand is that we only see our life from an earthly perspective for the most part and we only see our past and what is before us in this day. And we tend to predict the future from looking back at our past and present situations. But God sees all, past, present and future and He wants that all people would realize that He wants to bring blessing out of bad situations and bad circumstances. The devil would like us to reject God when life doesn’t go well and to despise God by blaming Him for all our bad circumstances. But God wants that we would not leave Him, but even in our lack of understanding what is going on, that we would all the more lean on Him for help, help which no one else is able to give.

My wife has a good word picture concerning how this is for us. She says it like this: Trying to understand God in the difficult times of life can be compared to a child who is getting a painful shot, who is looking at his mother who is holding him, and is wondering as to why mom is letting the doctor do this painful thing to him. Both the doctor and the mom know that the shot is needful and necessary, and as a result the child experiences the pain in order to get the benefit of the shot. But all the child knows is the pain of the shot, not understanding that his mom loves him and is doing what is best for the child. There are no words that the mother could say that would help the child to understand as to the whats and whys of what is happening.

In our pain, we often will wonder what God is doing, and we long to hear an explanation of the why's in our life. May by faith we hear the words of Psalm 23 in a very personal way, and especially hear our Father's gracious and soothing voice, experience the gentle pressure of His arms of embracement around us and above all be so close to our Good Shepherd, that we feel His heart throbbing with love for us as He whispers to us

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life: and you

will dwell in my house for ever.

God’s Peace to you!

Pastor Orval

Loved of the Lord John 21:1-22

Dear friend in Christ,

 

God's Peace be unto you from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

 

Those are the words of scripture that we left off with last week when we shared briefly of the resurrection appearance of Jesus to His disciples who were behind locked doors in fear as they grappled with the events of the last few days. We heard of how when He appeared before them of how He spoke the wonderful words of peace, of comfort and of assurance. He then, as the life giving Spirit, (1 Corinthians 15:45) said to them,  

 

Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.  (John 20:20-23)

 

We know from looking backwards at the life of the Apostles that it was not until after the Day of Pentecost that they came to understand, to know and to experience the empowerment  that comes to all believers at the infilling of the Holy Spirit. From that time on as faith melted together with reality, they began to fulfill those purposes that aligned with the purposes of God, namely in the great gathering of all people to the Table of the Lord.  In speaking of the Table of the Lord, we are not speaking of the Lord's Table as much as we are of the Table of salvation to which all mankind has been called to and to which our God desires that all would heed the call to come.

 

As a reminder, Christ is the One who is Peace and through His death, resurrection and ascension, He has secured peace for all mankind.

 

Through repentance and faith, we receive His peace and are infilled with His Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

 

Because we possess the peace of God, within us wells a deep desire to pass this amazing peace of God to others around us.  Therefore, with joy we call upon all to be loosed from their sin by hearing and believing the Word of the Gospel: “Believe you sins for given in the Name and through the Blood of Christ.”

 

In the 21st chapter of John's Gospel, we see a post resurrection, pre ascension appearance of Jesus, we hear Him invite 7 of His "gone fishing" followers to "Come and Dine." or "Come to the Table and Eat." After breakfast, Jesus speaks to Peter, (as well as all others there, including us here today) and in His gentle way asks Peter, three times as to whether he loves Him. Jesus then foretells Peter of his future and of how he is going to bear witness as HIs follower and in so doing, bring great glory to God. The last part of this chapter refers to a question that Peter asked Jesus about the future of his beloved brother John, the Apostle of love.

 

There are many many good commentaries that have been written on this chapter and it is good to spend time reading, meditating and applying that which is being revealed in this chapter. It is always a blessing to ourselves and to others around us when we apply ourselves to the hearing, the reading and the meditation in and over the Word of our Lord. So,  having said that, it would be important to pick one main truth in this chapter which we could spend a little time on and a part that is foundational in understanding and knowing the heart of our Lord. So, we will not focus so much on Peter's experience, but on some of the actions of the Lord which he did in this post resurrection appearance. Here are the verses that we will consider:

 

John 21:12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

 13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

 

Why these verses about Jesus providing breakfast to the hungry fisherman? Well, look at the verbs in verses 12 n 13. Come, dine, come, take, and gave.  What do we think about when we hear those words? They are certainly action words, and we understand that Jesus is the one doing the action and the disciples are the ones who are the recipients of the actions. So, you may be thinking, where is this going?

 

Who is the Actor in our salvation history? Jesus Christ is the One who came to bring us to His table of fellowship by taking His Body to the cross, giving it for the life of the world so that we might become partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and through that gift escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust. Peter wrote those words in his second epistle, which were given by the Holy Spirit of course, but of which he surely came to realize through the knowledge of God, through faith and in his experience of  the truth of those words he wrote.

 

The loving givingness of God in Christ is so foundational to understanding the heart and purposes of God, that if we miss that, we will miss grace and its implications for the world including ourselves. How so? Well, Jesus is the Good Shepherd , and as Peter writes, the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), we are sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100). He is the One that gave, Who gives and will continue giving to us of Himself so that we might not remain as sheep, but that we would become shepherds of others after the model of the Chief Shepherd. Can we not hear Peter's experience coming through the Holy Word of God when he wrote in this way?

 

KJV 1 Peter 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

 

 

Can we not realize that the better we understand Peter's journey (from the Gospels) in which he came to the end of himself and was grasped by the grace of God( and latched on to it),, the more his two epistles will speak to us the grace of God. It is noteworthy to point out that it is difficult to find places in his two epistles in which Peter looked back at his failures of the past and made a big deal of it, but rather he magnified and held up the great grace of God!!! Let us not miss that as we live our lives in the effects of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, both as forgiven and thankful sheep but also as those being motivated by the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts to serve others.

 

The question that has been coming to me as I have been thinking of our dear brother Peter and his journey of faith is: Am I motivated by the Gospel of love or by something other than that? Peter humbly spoke to the Lord after the third question as to whether He loved his Lord, by saying, Lord, you everything, you know that I love you!

After which our Lord told Peter, "Feed my sheep." Demonstrate your love for me by acting as I did and as I do.

 

Peter remained a needy sheep, but also became a shepherd, an under shepherd.  Apostle John never calls himself by his name John, but referred to himself as the "one whom the Lord loves." He remained as a sheep, one who needed the constant and assuring love of God in Christ towards him and he became the Apostle of love, living in the power of the resurrection of our Lord all boldness but yet in humility.

 

Wow, there is a lot to think about and to apply, isn't there? Are we yet motivated by love in our serving of our Lord or is there need of His refreshing touch into our hearts and lives today? Yes, Lord, you know that we love you, but it is only because of your kindness, of your forgiveness and of your patience towards us. We only can love you because you first loved us and yet do love us. Speak to us today, Lord, through your Word and your Spirit. May your Words touch those places that have become more dear to us than they should whatever that might be..........

 

 

Lord, may we hear your voice today that speaks to us, "I love you, Follow thou me."

 

To Him be all glory, Amen.

 

Pastor Orval Wirkkals