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Romans 12:1-2 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

John 10:7-18 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again.18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Silent Prayer
This morning I am continuing the “Great I Am” series that I began last week. Last week we talked about Jesus, The Great I Am, as the Bread of Life and as The Light of the World. As we move on in John’s Gospel we see Jesus claiming to the be Gate or Door as the King James and other translations use and that He also claims to be the Good Shepherd. Let’s talk first about the Great I Am as the Door.

The Great I Am is the Door

I want you to think with me this morning about the purpose of a door. When you walked in here, you came from the lobby into the sanctuary by stepping in through a doorway. The doors at the back of the sanctuary are shut to help us focus and not be distracted by lobby noise or nursery noise or any other distraction outside of this room.

We purchased security doors for our children’s ministry area a few years back because we wanted to add some protection for our kids. In that regard a door is helpful to keep some unwanted danger out.

Doors can be passageways that lead to new experiences, personal and spiritual growth, and advancement in life. We call these doors “Doors of Opportunity.”
Just what can we take away this morning from this Great I Am title Jesus has given Himself? He is the door? I’d like to offer two ideas for your consideration.

  1. He is a Door that SHUTS OUT!

    When we walk through The Door-when we enter into a saving relationship with Jesus there is a sense that we are closing the door on who we are and where we have been. At the moment of salvation, we enter a new reality, leaving a former reality behind. And this new life with Jesus offers us an opportunity to shut out and leave behind some things that won’t help us as we begin to experience our new life in Him.

    Many people would love to escape the pain of their past. Whether your past includes personal failures or pain that has been inflicted on you by other people or both, walking through the Great I Am’s Door gives you an opportunity to be healed of the pain of your past. Think of it this way: On one side of the door there is pain. On the other side of the door there is purpose. Pain produces sadness, cynicism, loneliness, anger, bitterness and stunts personal growth. Purpose gives us focus and strength, enabling us to go farther than we could have without the pain. Purpose puts the sting of pain to rest. Purpose moves us from asking “Why?” to helping us ask “Where?” Where can I go from here? What can I become as I allow God to transform me? Pain stunts our growth, but purpose enables us to grow and become who and what God intended. By entering a relationship with Jesus, we can move from pained to purposeful.

    Many people try to deal with their pain by pushing destructive doors open and by moving through doors that don’t provide healing. They are doors that lead to more darkness, more doubt, more discouragement and more disillusionment. But those who genuinely move through Jesus will discover an opportunity to take their painful memories and hurts to Him (Psalm 34:18 and I Peter 5:7) and find ways to escape the heaviness of their past. Jesus can heal your heartache. He can soothe your memories. He can take the sting out of regret. For almost all of us that is a process and sometimes a lifelong process, but it begins when we walk through the door of salvation.

    One thing is immediate, however. When we enter through salvation’s door, the spiritual penalty for our sin is completely lifted from our record! Guilt, shame and condemnation no longer have a legal authority over us! Satan may try to remind us of who we have been and what we have done, but he has no legal spiritual authority over us at that point. He has no case against us. When Satan tries to accuse us of sin, God the Righteous Judge declares, “Case dismissed!” “There is no evidence for this charge because when I see those who have walked through the door, I see them as covered by the blood of Jesus. I see them as redeemed, reconciled and righteous.”

    Romans 8:1-21 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

    Only the Great I Am can declare someone righteous. Only the Great I Am can dismiss the case Satan thinks he has against us. Only the Great I Am can expunge our record.

    Psalm 103:10-12 (NIV) 10 The Lord does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

    Once we walk through Jesus, the Door, we leave behind our sinful nature. We are separated from the spiritual consequences of sin. God removes our sin from us. We are cleansed instantly. We separate ourselves from sin and unite ourselves with Jesus the instant we walk through the door.

    Jesus called Himself the Door in this passage about sheep and shepherds. You see, in ancient times, shepherds would herd the sheep into a pen that had about a two-foot opening. It didn’t have a door for them to go through and a door to close behind them for the night. The door for the sheep pen was the shepherd, himself. He slept there. He put his body across the opening. He was the protector and defender of the sheep. He didn’t rely on any other door to keep them safe. He, alone was the door. If an animal sought to harm the sheep, it had to go through the shepherd to get to them.

    As Christians, we rely solely on Jesus for protection from Satan’s accusations. When we walk through Him, Jesus locks the door, so to speak, so that the penalty of sin can’t follow us into the new life with Jesus. So, our past and our problem with sin is dealt with by entering through the door of Jesus.

    What is it that you need to walk out of this morning? What is it that you need to close the door on forever?

    He is a Door that OPENS UP!

    All kinds of new things are possible as we begin our relationship with Jesus. Look again at verses 9 and 10: 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

    Verse nine says that God opens up the way to salvation through Jesus. Jesus goes on to say that those who enter into Him come in and go out and find pasture and a full or abundant life. Finding pasture relates to being provided for. Abundant life involves enjoying life and being satisfied.

    I know it is through my relationship with Christ that I can enjoy my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I know it is through my relationship with Christ that my marriage is a good relationship. I know it is through my relationship with Christ that I have wisdom, help, and support to parent my kids. I know it is through my relationship with Christ that I have prayed for people and have seen them healed and helped. I know it is through my relationship with Christ that I can have peace in the midst of a world dealing with terror and daily chaos.

    I have come to know God as a Waymaker. Revelation 3:8 tells me He opens doors no man can shut. It may seem like you are meeting dead end after dead end after dead end in your life and circumstances. If that is the case, I have to believe God is simply closing doors that you don’t need to walk through. Keep trusting Him. Life on earth isn’t a charmed existence. It is hard, but it can be good when we maintain our trust in Him. Scripture is replete with example after example of how God provided a miracle just in the nick of time. Hold on. He is moving. He is moving mountains out of your way. He is moving people into place that can help you. He is moving in time, but He is not in a hurry. He can sustain and keep you as you wait for the right door to open.

    What door do you need Him to open for you this morning? Are you fully trusting in God for provision and peace? Or are you trying to make it happen in your own power and strength? Trust the Great I Am to take you to the place where you can find pasture this morning.

    We move quickly to the next Great I Am statement:

    The Great I Am as the Good Shepherd

    What makes Jesus good at shepherding?

    He knows your name, and He knows your need.

    Verse 14 tells us Jesus knows His followers. We aren’t one of many to Jesus. We are one of one. His eye is always on us as individuals. Facebook tells me I have 3,764 friends unless someone has defriended me since Friday (which is entirely possible?). Now I guarantee you that were I to see over half of those people out on the street I wouldn’t have a clue who they were or how we were connected. Of those who I could identify, I couldn’t tell you what was going on in their lives for the most part, even though I see a lot of what they post. There are too many names and too many needs for me to keep track of. But Jesus isn’t overwhelmed by the number of people on His friends’ list. He tends to them all as individuals.

    Look at this passage of scripture from John 1:44ff. I want to show you something that could easily be overlooked:

    John 1:44-49 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

    Jesus told Nathanael that before the two of them ever met, Jesus knew him and knew what he was like. It was this realization that Jesus was the One who could shepherd Nathanael’s soul because he knew him and was aware of where he had been and who he was that drew Nathanael to follow Him. Jesus said to Nathanael, “I saw you.” He happened to reference knowing he had been under a fig tree maybe studying Scripture or just kicking back and relaxing, but Jesus could just as easily have said, “I saw you when you were in a fight with your spouse” or “I saw you when work pressures were getting the best of you” or “I saw you when you were sick and weren’t sure how you could go on” or “I saw you when people were mean and condescending to you” or “I saw you when you were trying to hide that thing you do” or “I saw you that time you failed and were so embarrassed about it.” Jesus knew Nathanael. He happened to know him as a sincere person of integrity.

    Remember the Woman at the Well? Remember what she testified to the people in her town after she had met and talked with Jesus? She said, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did.” He told her everything she had done, and it wasn’t the same kind of testimony that he had of Nathanael. He knew the sinful way she had been living. He knew that no one ever accused her of having integrity. He knew her. As we heard at Beloved earlier in the month, “He knew her full and loved her still.”

    It isn’t just that He knows who we are, but He loves us in spite of what He knows because He sees our need for Him. He sees our need to be cared for. He sees our need to be rescued.

    He knows us by name and by need. That makes Him a Good Shepherd! He knows what to do for us and when to do it. What did He tell Moses when He first approached Him? He said, “I have seen my people. I have seen their suffering. I have heard their cries. I know they are in distress, and I am here to help.” Have you wondered about your value to God? Have you been trying to handle life’s challenges on your own? Why not turn your cares over to the One who knows you full and loves you still?

    I also submit to you that God is a Good Shepherd because:

    He sacrifices for you and stays with you.

    Look at verse 11ff again: 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

    Jesus laid down His life for us (verse 11). Do you realize that under the Old Covenant the sheep died for the Shepherd, but under the New Covenant the Shepherd dies for the sheep? What a turn of events! What wondrous love is this? How do mercy and justice meet in such a dynamic, passionate and historic cataclysmic event? It happened because the Great I Am was willing to be slain for you and me and He didn’t try to run when the going got tough.

    The soldiers who came to arrest Jesus didn’t have a very hard job. He left His place of prayer and went to meet them so He could hand Himself over. No one took Jesus against His will. He sacrificed Himself for us. What an amazing, generous, Good Shepherd!

    Jesus is the God who is near. He is near to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18). He is the Friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He will go with you in deep waters and through fiery trials (Is 43). He will lead the way out of the dark valleys of life. He will take you safely home. He is the Good Shepherd who will ensure His sheep will make it. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows the way home. Stick with Him.

    Jesus, the Great I Am, The Door is the way out of what is haunting and hounding you. He is the Way into purpose and growth and opportunity and life. Jesus, the Great I Am, The Good Shepherd, wants to draw even closer to you today. He knows your name and your need. He has proven He is willing to do whatever it takes to help you in your time of need. He has sacrificed everything in order to give you safety. He will never walk away. You aren’t too complicated for Him. You aren’t too much for Him to handle.

    Jesus is the Door for the sheep. He is also the Good Shepherd. As I begin to close the message I want to point you to one specific verse in our passage. It is John 10:10 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

    He doesn’t want you to walk through The Door. He doesn’t want you to enter into the fold of the Good Shepherd. We live in a world with all kinds of options, but spiritually speaking, there are only two. You either enter into a relationship with God through Christ or you belong to the prince of the air, Satan. You can either live under God’s authority who gives abundant life or you will live under the authority of Satan, a thief, a murderer, a deceiver, a destroyer of life.

    Oh, Satan doesn’t knock on your door and say, “Follow me and let me destroy you.” He is subtle, sneaky and seductive. He gets people to be self-absorbed and enamored by the things of the world. You know, the things of the flesh. The things that seem good or feel good for a moment, but they lead down a dark alley and end in some kind of death. Emotional death. Physical death. Relational death. Financial death. Spiritual death. What a devastating end for something that started out to be seemingly full of pleasure.

    It reminds me of the way Eskimos seduce wolves to their death. The Eskimos take a sharp knife, dip it in seal fat, and plant the knife with the blade facing up in the snow. A hungry wolf will smell the seal fat, which the wolf loves, find the knife, and begin to lick it. As soon as the wolf licks it, he tastes blood-his own blood. But he loves the taste of blood, so he licks more and more until he finally kills himself. What he thought at first was really living was actually killing him.

    Satan is really good at making things taste so good that people continue to consume them as their life ebbs away. Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy. In fact, he is trying to distract some of you right now. He wants to get your mind off of the truth you are hearing. He wants to lure you out of this sanctuary when we stand to pray. He doesn’t want you to come to Christ. He doesn’t want the pain of your past to be behind you as you enter through Jesus, The Door. He doesn’t want the bondage of sin to fall off of you as you walk through The Door. He doesn’t want you to walk through The Door and to have abundant life and peace with Christ. He doesn’t want you to walk through The Door because he knows once you do, you are protected by the power of God that goes with you every minute of every day. He doesn’t want you under the care of the Good Shepherd.

    The Great I Am is opening the door for many here today. We have a choice to benefit from His sacrifice and walk into His safety, into His sufficiency, and into His salvation. Will you choose to close the door on that which needs to be behind you, to open the door to all that God has for you, and to allow the Good Shepherd, to lead your soul today?

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