Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 11:55 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “He Gives Purpose.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 10 (select vv. ESV).
They Know His Voice (vv. 1-5)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
How do we know the difference between the voice of a stranger and our Lord’s voice? For one, we must first of all be one of the Lord’s sheep. We must trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives. By faith in Jesus Christ we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6). Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we believe in Jesus, thus, we are born again of the Spirit of God. The old is gone, the new has come. We leave our old lives of sin behind us to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. The Holy Spirit indwells us, and he teaches, inspires, encourages, counsels, leads and empowers us to live for Jesus.
Then, we need to be in his Word daily, listening to what he teaches us, and doing what he says. We need to be in prayer, as well, for this is the time in which we talk with God and he with us, although I believe this should be ongoing throughout our day and not just something we do at a specified period of time. When we are in relationship with someone, and that someone is with us, we can speak to that person any time, and he can speak to us. And, that is how it should be with our walks of faith with God/Jesus. The more we talk with him and listen to him, and the more we dwell on his word and do what it says, the more we will get to know our Lord’s voice, and to be able to discern his voice from that of strangers.
So, what does a stranger look like or sound like? A stranger is going to be anyone who leads you away from your pure devotion to Jesus Christ, who tries to draw you back into sin, and who pulls you toward following the ways of humans and the patterns of this sinful world, instead of following Christ. A stranger will twist the scriptures to his advantage, and will try to trick you into believing his lies. He will be stealthy and very clever, though, and he will try to get to you through a back door into your life, so you must spiritually be on guard at all times so that you are not fooled, putting on daily the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20). We must always be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit within us, who will warn us against such strangers, and we must heed those warnings, and not quench the Spirit.
The Good Shepherd (vv. 7-15)
Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
I find these words very comforting. When we believe in Jesus Christ, this is not about adhering to a particular religion with all its rites and rituals. We are entering into a relationship with Almighty God. Belief in Jesus is also not about joining a social or a service organization. And, it is not something we “do” just one day or a few days a week at specific hours in particular locations. It is like getting married. Jesus is our groom, and we are his bride. We enter into a love relationship with our Lord where we leave our “single” life of sin behind us, and we pledge our love, loyalty, devotion and fidelity to our Lord, and to him alone. We no longer chase after other gods. We want nothing more than to be with Jesus, and him with us, and we enjoy our sweet times of fellowship with him day in, and day out.
Jesus Christ, God the Son, loved us so much that he willingly left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human form, suffered like we suffer, and died on a cross for our sins. When he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. When he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. By his stripes we are healed! Amen! By faith in Jesus Christ we are delivered out of slavery to sin and the curse of sin, and we are set free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. We do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. It is a free gift, but a gift we must receive by faith. Since the gift is freedom from slavery to sin, and freedom to live to righteousness, receiving this gift means that, in order to follow Jesus, we must leave our lives of sin behind us. We cannot continue walking in sin and believe in Jesus at the same time, for salvation means freedom from sin.
Are You His Sheep? (vv. 24-30)
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
How do you know if you are one of his sheep? He said his sheep know his voice, he knows them, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him. So, if someone is telling you that belief in Jesus is merely certain words you say after someone and then they congratulate you that you are now saved, and that you have heaven guaranteed to you when you die, don’t listen to them. This is a message of strangers. They are not preaching the full gospel message. The gospel that Jesus and his New Testament apostles taught is one of dying with Christ to sin, and living with Christ to righteousness. It is a life of walking in obedience to our Lord, not in absolute sinless perfection, but also not using lack of perfection as an excuse for continued willful sin. We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?
Paul said that Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but who walk after the Spirit. He said if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live. Jesus said the same. He said if we want to come after him, we must deny self, die daily to sin and self (take up our cross daily) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (See: Ro. 8; Lu. 9:23-25).
We are not his sheep if all we do is make a profession of Christ as Savior. We must listen to him, and we must follow him in obedience. This is the mark of a true sheep of Christ. It does not mean we will never sin again, but when we do sin, we will repent, and we will continue following Jesus with our lives, because we love him, and we desire to please him.
He Gives Purpose / An Original Work / June 9, 2012
“Listen to Me when I’m calling to you.
Obey freely My word.
Follow Me in all of My ways.
Do all that I say.
Hear Me gently whisper to you
My will for your life and future.
Give all of your life and heart to
Follow Me always.”
Repent of your sins and worship Jesus.
He’s your Lord and Master.
He died for your sins so you could
Live with Him today.
He has a plan for your life and
He gives purpose and direction.
He gives meaning to your life,
So follow Him today.
“I love you so much I gave My life for
You to walk in My ways,
Living for Me each day as you
Bow to Me and pray.
Witness for Me of your love for Me and
Of My grace and mercy,
How I died to save you of your
Sins now and always.”