Pastor Barry/ The Gathering: FEAR NOT #2: Watch & Pray To watch this video message and others go toand click on the youtube link to subscribe.
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Fooled 1 Peter 5:2-4,John 8:31-32
Have you ever been fooled? I mean really fooled! Not like by a surprise party or a pleasant deception, but deceived with an evil intent. If you have then you know it is the worst feeling ever— a crushing, crashing, hard to breathe feeling that lingers for a long, long time. A feeling like the disciples must have had when Judas arrived with soldiers to arrest Jesus and then kissed him on the cheek in betrayal. Of course, this was no surprise to Jesus. He knew before hand that Judas was His betrayer. He even told him at the dinner table that night to go and do what he was about to do quickly (John 13:27). Jesus knew everything— that religious leaders would plot his murder, that the Jews would reject him, that the disciples would scatter in fear, that Peter would deny him, that the Romans would crucify him and that he would rise from the dead. Jesus knew the truth about every person and everything and He wove them all together into a tapestry that accomplished his good mission—to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
But we are not like Christ in this way. After all, it was He who even called us “sheep” (John 10:27) — Like Sheep we are easily distracted, very emotional, quick to follow and easily led to the slaughter by a skillful herder. Actually, a herd of sheep trustingly follows a trained animal to the slaughterhouse called a “Judas Goat” — so appropriately named. Who are the “Judas goats” leading the herd of American sheep towards the slaughterhouse of socialism today? How is it that we and the rest of the world are so easily distracted by distressing news and emotional rhetoric? Why do we continue to follow the herd into economic disaster while distancing ourselves from the ones we love? In fact this distancing is ironically killing many of the people we love. Why do we continue listening to the many herdsmen who have lied to us so many times to us before? Christians– why don’t we turn and run into the threat that confronts us like David did against the mighty giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Why don’t we arm ourselves with the promises of God and hurl that stone of faith– into the face of that blasphemous foe and cut off its head? Are we so afraid of dying that we refuse to live by faith?
Have we lost the patriotism of our founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence and served as our nation’s third president? Who said: “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have”, or that revolutionary patriot, Patrick Henry, who once said, “Give me liberty or give me death”? How about the greatest revolutionary leader of all who said: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”. That would be our Lord and Savior—Jesus who was quoted in Matthew 10:34 in regards to the loyalty that He expects from His followers.
Many of you this morning may already not like this sermon. To you I say “stay with me and hear me out!” I have studied and prayed long and hard before presenting this word to you this morning and I welcome anyone who wants to fact check me after I’m finished. This is a Shepherds cry to his flock and I truly desire to live out my call according to 1 Peter 5:2-4.
My cry to you this morning is for spiritual discernment! My cry to God this morning for myself and the leadership here is for spiritual discernment! We are not like Christ in this way— Jesus knew the truth about every person and everything… we do not! We are confused by alarming and contradicting statements and instructions. We are aghast at the things that global leaders have done and are doing. By nature we are not spiritually discerning, and most of us feel like lost sheep in this present time, but Jesus said: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. John 8:31-32 Let us pray to that end this morning—
Sheep John 10:1-18, 2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Timothy 4:16
How well do you recognize Jesus? When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees they did not understand him, but then again they were so intent on proving that he was a counterfeit that they overlooked the obvious— He fulfilled all the prophesies in the Torah that they should have known so well. The lesson to learn here is that we will not see what we refuse to see and this is true irrespective of ones education or social status. The Pharisees did not want to be led by anyone so how could they understand Jesus referring to Himself as a Shepherd and a sheep gate?
Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study genuine bills until they master the look of the real thing (uscurrency.gov/educational-materials/training-course) .
In the same way anyone who claims to be a Christian must study Jesus through the Bible because there are many counterfeits in our world today— “thieves and robbers.” The “gatekeeper” (God) only opens the gate to the Jesus described in the Bible and genuine Christians (sheep) will only follow Him. This Jesus called all spiritual leaders that came before Him “thieves and robbers”. He defined Himself as the only way, truth and life—”no one comes to the Father (God) except through Me”( John 14:6). Jesus also defined Himself as the only one who willfully laid down His life for the “sheep,” and in verse sixteen He made it clear that he would bring both Jewish and Gentile believers together as “one flock” under Him. How well do you recognize the Biblical Jesus? We can not spiritually discern truth without Him. This is why the Apostle Paul admonished us to handle the word of God correctly (2 Timothy 2:15) and to watch our life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16).
Divided John 10:19-21, Matthew 25:31-39, Matthew 10:26-39
At hearing Jesus the Jews were “divided”. Some dismissed him as demon possessed and others considered his miraculous works. Jesus divided believers (sheep) from unbelievers (goats) then as He does today—He will also rightfully do this in judgment too (Matthew 25:31-33), but He told His “sheep” (we who have received Him and believe) “not to be afraid” (Matthew 10:26-33). He will make all things Known to us and as He reveals such things we are to proclaim them publicly without fear of those who can only kill the body. We are called to divide truth from a lie and expose the enemy to all who will listen and thereby come to the Shepherd of their souls.
Yes, Jesus came to bring a “sword” (Matthew 10:34-39), and we must be willing to bear a cross of persecution if we are to follow Him, but take heart! We are those who believe in the Biblical Jesus— the resurrected Jesus who will also resurrect us who believe! (John 11:25-26)
“Watch and Pray” Mark 14:38, Matthew 24:42-44
Spiritual discernment, and boldness will only come to real “sheep” who recognize the real Jesus.
When Judas fooled the disciples with his betrayal it was only because they did not listen to Jesus and “watch and pray” as He told them (Mark 14:38) —their “flesh was weak.” Let us keep watch as we trust in our Good Shepherd’s promises. Let us live by faith, learn from God’s word, and “watch and pray” as we look for His coming— and His truth will set us free!