Sermon:  Vying Voices

Summary:  There are many different kinds of voices that pursue God's people.  
Some try to sneak in for the purpose of killing and destroying God's people.  
Others are hired hands and tend the sheep for some self-serving purpose, but 
do not care for the sheep and will abandon them in dangerous times.  The good 
shepherd goes out ahead of the sheep, leads them in and out, protects them, 
even laying down his life for them

Know:   The only voices in life you should listen to are the ones that are in harmony 
with the voice of Christ in scripture.
Feel:    Suspicious of voices that do not sound right

Do:    Identify the messages and medium of the various voices in your life, and 
evaluate them against the message and worldview of God as described in the Bible.

Text:  John 10:1-42

Scripture Reading: Psalm 23

1.  Just celebrated Independence Day
	a.  Country forefathers fought for independence
	b.  Many people commemorated their sacrifice
2.  Was there a Jewish Independence Day
	a.  Many think of Passover
	b.  But there was another - 164 BC first celebrated
	c.  Called, "Feast of Dedication" (Dedication in Hebrew - "Hanukkah")
3.  Background
	a.  Alexander the Great program of Hellenization
		-  Four generals took over, and began Selucid rule over Palestine
	b.  170 B.C., Antioches Epiphanes erected image of Zeus in the temple, 
	     sacrifice pig on altar
		- Forced people to abandon keeping of the Torah
		- Ordered priests to sacrifice pigs and serve it to the people
		- Outlaw circumcision and dietary laws
		- Gymnasium was built in Jerusalem
	c.  Antiochus did not act alone
		- Priests also assisted in Hellenization
		- Hellenized priests bribed way into leadership, had the faithful 
		  priests assassinated 
		- They would abandon daily sacrifices to attend the games in the 
		- Some priests sacrifice to Greek deities and ate pork
	d.  Judas Maccabaeus led revolt, sanctified and rededicated the temple
		- Re-lit the lampstand to show God is with them
		- Rallied Jersualem, and they defeated Antiochus
		- Hanukkah commemorates this event
		- Often a heightened sense of Messianic hope during this time
4.  This is the backdrop for much of chapter 10
	a.  Season when people asking hard questions about leadership
		-  Priests sold out to the Greeks
		-  How could this happen?
	b.   Against this backdrop, Jesus teaches
	c.  John 10:1-30

I.  The voice of the thieves, killers, and hirelings
	A.  Jesus speaks of various people who pursue the sheep
		1.  He calls some thieves and robbers
		2.  He calls some hirelings
	B.  Characteristics of these people
		1.  Do not protect the sheep from wolves
			a.  The hireling is not concerned about the sheep
			b.  Like discount store vs. downtown hardware store
				- I don't know, I just work here, not really
				- Downtown - more helpful, attentive, better service, 
				   they know their stuff
			c.  Or like a lifeguard to afraid to swim, or policeman who 
			     hides at danger, or soldier who runs away
				- What would you think of them if they said, "I just 
				   work here!"
				- Yet that is exactly what Jesus is saying many of the 
				   leaders have been doing
			d.  Wolf comes, hireling says, "I just work here"
				- Has some other motivation other than the sheep
				- Could be money, attention, power, control, etc.
				- But the sheep are not really safe
		2.  Steals from the sheep
			a.  Refers to them as thieves and robbers
			b. They sneak in the back way
				- They are not up front, out in the open
				-  If they were, people see them for what they are
				- So go around do a lot of their work behind the 
				   scenes - cutting opening through window, etc. 
				- Then, they pounce and steal
			c.  What do they steal?  
				- They come to steal and destroy
				- Jesus came that they might have life
			d. Insinuates that they steal ---- life!
				- How do they steal life? ....
		3.  Do not accept Christ
			a.  As leaders, they themselves are sheep, but not Christ's 
				-  Because they not listen to him
				- Only Christ's sheep listen to him
			b.  They tell the other sheep to ignore Christ 
				- They claim to be disciples of Moses, not Christ
			c.  But the Torah points to Christ!!
				- They are NOT disciples of Moses
				- A disciple of Moses would accept Christ
				- They invalidated their leadership by rejecting Christ!
			d.  They rejected life for themselves and all who follow them
				- Jesus give the light of life
				- He is the source of living water
				- He is the bread of life
				- But they rejected it and lead others to reject it....
	C.  They destroy the sheep - Not shepherds, but butchers, want to eat!
	D.  Who specifically is Jesus talking about?
		1.  Some think it is reference to false Messiah's in his day
		2.  In context, it is probably directly aimed at Jewish leadership
			a.  May not be guilty of syncretism as the leadership was 
			      during the days of Judas Macabees
			b.  But, they are guilty of religious pride, stiff-necked, willful 
			     blindness, hypocrisy, list goes on...
			c.  Refused to accept Christ as God and Messiah
				- Stiff necked, did not put on Christ's yoke
				- Word their own yoke, and were lost
			d.  Result in their relationship to God is the same
				- Out of favor with God
				- They were lost and doomed without Christ
		3.  Following their voice was disastrous
			a.  Ultimately, it led to the destruction of Jerusalem
			b.  So many times past, when people reject God, God 
			     allowed nations to plunder them
			c.  First it was Assyria, then Babylon
			d.  Next, it would be Rome, Jesus prophesied this in Jn 2
		4.  There is only one voice you can completely trust...

II.  The voice of the Shepherd
	A.  There is someone distinctly different that pursues the sheep
	B.  Characteristics
		1.  Is the "Good" Shepherd
			a.  Contrast with bad shepherd
			b.  The bad shepherd are those like the hireling
			c.  What makes him the "good" shepherd?
				- What makes a "good" policeman?
				- What makes a "good" EMT?
				- What makes a "good" lifeguard?
				- What makes a "good fireman?"
			d.  Jesus describes how he is good...
		2.  Lays down his life
			a.  Image of the shepherd and sheepfold
				- Pen surrounded by rocks, thorns, etc.
				- One opening, the shepherd sleeps at that opening
				- Fights off predators, wild animals, and robbers - 
			b.  Jesus' life was not taken from him
				- When predator comes, do everything to protect
				- When sin came into world, God told Cain that sin 
				   was crouching at the door, like an animal
				- Jesus took the beast head on, literally laid down his 
				   life so that we could have life...
		3.  Gives abundant life
			a.  Not merely about food or clothing
				- Life is more than food, body more than clothing
				- Can have these things and still not have life
			b.  Talking about real life  - Jn 17:1-5
				- Not about length of days or eternal existence
				- Bible never calls eternal destruction in hell "life" but 
				- Knowing, loving God, being with God, is life
			c.  May say, "I am not in presence of God, and I fine..."
				- Really?  You really think you live away from God?
				- Breathe his air, in body he made, you enjoy life
				- Imagine world devoid of everything that is God - 
				   light, love, justice, comfort, beauty, etc.
				- What does Bible call it when take it all away? - HELL
			d.  Jesus came to give you life abundantly....
				- He is the only one that can because ...
		4.  One with the Father  (states it clearly)  
			a.  I and the Father are one
				- No parable, no saying, nothing cryptic
				- States it clearly so there is no misunderstanding
			b.  If he gives you life, then you truly have life
				- Because he is the source of life, he is God
			c.  The sheep are his sheep, genuinely cares
			d.  He knows his sheep
	C.  ILL:  1980's Israeli army punished village for not paying taxes
		1.  Rounded up all village animals put into a pen
		2.  Widow approach soldiers, knowing the danger in doing so
			a.  Poor, only one young son, sheep is all they had
			b.  Soldiers point to the pen, said no way to find her sheep
			c.  She asked that if it were possible to identify, could she 
			     take them
			d.  Soldiers agreed
		3.  Young son came and began sing song he always did to sheep
			a.  Sheep's heads popped up and began moving toward him
			b.  Eventually, all 25 sheep came to the boy, and he led 
			     them safely home
			c.  Not one sheep was lost
	D.  Jesus pursues his sheep to take them safely home
		1.  He did what it took to round up his sheep
		2.  He is the good shepherd
		3.  He knows his sheep, and his sheep know him

III.  Warning to sheep:  Beware  (10:30-42)
	A.  v.36 - Jesus is the one whom God sanctified and sent
		1.  It is the Feast of Dedication
		2.  They are remembering the failed leadership of Priests
			a.  But Jesus is the new leader, the Messiah
			b.  Jesus will lead the people to God
		3.  They remembering Judas and Cleansing and sanctification of 
		     God's temple
			a.  But in chapt 2, Jesus says he is the temple
			b.  He will tear this one down and in 3 days rebuild it
		4.  v.19 - A division among the Jews
			a.  The voice of the Pharisees and Jewish leaders
			b.  The voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd
			c.  Beware of whose voice you heed.
	B.  Jesus went to the wilderness, many believed in him.  
		1.  Wilderness a fitting place
			a.  This was typical place shepherds took sheep to graze
				- The desert to the east
				- Mountains to the west
			b.  Dangers there
				- Wide open, sometimes cliffs up to 1,000 feet
				- Wild animals, robbers
			c.  Rainy season, it springs to life, plenty there at that time
			d.  But much of the time, meager, needed shepherd to 
			     lead them to water and food
		2.  We live in a wilderness
			a.  Mother Teresa served poorest of the poor in Calcutta
			b.  But she said there was a deeper poverty in USA
				- People had more material things
				- But this was what she called a poverty of the soul
			c.  Our prosperity often masks that we are poor, wretched, 
			     and blind
		3.  See examples of this all over the place
			a.  People increasingly isolated, lonely, die at home & no 
			     one knows.
			b.  Seething with pornography, gross distortion of what God 
			     created.  Access by kids readily available
			c.  Homosexuality rampant in USA more than any other 
			     place, open, in your face...
			d.  More violent crimes in USA that in any other country
			e.  Respect, even self-respect, honor, integrity seem quaint
			f.  Depression is chronic problem in USA  (over 14 million)
			g.  Stress related illnesses have skyrocketed (75% doctor 
			     visits related to stress)
			h.  Increasing disillusionment even among young people
		4.  Yes, we live in a wilderness
	C.  In the midst of this wilderness are distinct voices calling to you
		1.  Religious Leaders like Pharisees - Self made religion
			a.  Promise prosperity, peace, security
			b.  Many seem to deliver on the promise, but will not
			c.  Their end is eternal destruction
 		2.  Islam gaining in popularity
			a.  Ironic is that popularity increased AFTER 9-11
			b.  People looking for simple, uncompromising religion are 
			     drawn to it
			c.  The God of Islam is not the God of the Bible - is not love
			d.  Islam denies Jesus is God, that he died for sins and rose
		3.  Other man-made religions
			a.  Wiccan practitioners 
				-  Promise to help couples that are infertile
				-  Have them go through rituals, try conceive on altar
				-  Another man made attempt to improve wilderness
			b.  Buddhist - Come across as the most enlightened & wise
			c.  New Age - A mish mash of Eastern ideas
			d.  All of these make various promises, but their end is death
		4.  Unbelieving University teachers
			a.  Some do all they can to intimidate and ridicule believers
			b.  Answers to life are in philosophy, science, research--
			     without God
			c.  The ultimate end of this godless secularism is destruction
		5.  According to a Barna study:  Kids who face crisis, questions, 
		    challenges, who do they turn to?
			a.  #24 on the list = Dad; Moms are #11
			b.  Top of the list = Music, Friends, Videos, etc.
			c.  More disturbing than immorality is message that God is 
			     irrelevant and there are no solid rules, change rules
			d.  ILL:  Movies portray kids as wise, adults as idiots  
				- I like to ask question, "what is this movie saying?"
				- Whether you are aware of it, movies, music, etc. 
				   have message
				- If you identify it, can evaluate it
		6.  The loudest voice of all?  SELF
			a.  In USA, the individual is exalted above all else
			b.  We call this "secularism"
			c.  Sacrifice common good on altar of self
	D.  Who you listen to determines whose sheep you are
		1.  There are competing voices
			a.  Some sound completely idiotic
			b.  Some don't sound to bad
			c.  But only one voice is true
		2.  You are hearing many voices, who will you follow?
			a.  None of us probably say we follow new age, eastern 
			     religions, etc.
			b.  Yet their messages are mixed in everywhere
			c.  Often unwittingly accept a little bit of their messages
			d.  A little bit can harm you?  
				- How much cyanide will hard you?  
				- You drink or eat something laced with just a little on regular basis?
				- Be aware of what you swallow
		3.  How do you know who you are following?  
			a.  Look at your actions
			b.  Who do you go to for advice?
			c.  What do you read, listen to?
			d.  How do you react to the various voices?
		4.  Parable of two sons -  Mt 21:28-31
			a.  Father says go work in vineyard
			b.  One says he will not, regretted it, then went
			c.  One said, yes, but did not go.
			d.  Which was obedient?
				- Not the one who "said" it, but who "did" it
				- It is about action, not just words.

1.  Today you have listened to voice of God in his word
	a.  Do you agree to do what God instructs?
	b.  Remember it is not about what you say, but what you do
	c.  Listen to his voice even when you leave here
2.  The good shepherd is calling to you (inv)
3.  If already obeyed the Gospel
	a.  Be aware of the cacophony of voices
	b.  Be aware of what they are saying
	c.  Evaluate them, don't just accept them
	d.  Only accept the one and only true voice - The Good Shepherd
4.  Only way to be free is to listen to and follow the son, not Hollywood, not music, not 
     friends, not self-made religions, not godless teachers, etc.