By Verse : John 10:11-18 Topic :

April 22,18
WE’VE A STORY TO TELL

This week we continue the message of the Easter season. John’s gospel tells us near the end of the resurrection story and the encounter with Thomas this: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
With that thought in mind for this morning’s message two hymns came to mind. The first we’ve already sung. It should be the theme of every Sunday in every church. We sing it often on Palm Sunday as the kids walk around waving their psalms. “Tell me the stories of Jesus” we sing, “stories I love to hear. Things I would ask him to tell me if he were here.” Then our closing hymn is the second one. It is what we are commissioned to do as a church. It’s the commission Jesus gave his disciples at the end of Matthew’s gospel…” Go into all the world and tell my story of life and love.”
Yes, “We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right, a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light.”
Telling our stories. We’ve all got one. Sometime, somehow, as a believer in Jesus Christ you have had that encounter where Jesus became real to you. Each story is different. Last week we heard how Paul’s life was transformed by his encounter on the Damascus road. In another place we can read how an Ethiopian was riding along and who comes out of no where but Philip who asked what the Ethiopian was doing. He said he was reading Scripture but did not understand what he was reading. He said, “How can I understand unless someone explains it to me.” So, he invited Philip to come up and sit with him and explain it to him. Philip began to explain to him about Jesus being that lamb that was sacrificed that he was reading about. And as they traveled the road, they came to a water hole and the Ethiopian requested to be baptized into his new-found faith in Jesus Christ.
It’s amazing what can happen when you hear the stories of Jesus working in someone’s life. That’s how those stories ended up in the gospels and in the letters of Paul, Peter and John. They tell the story that lift hearts to the Lord above. Those are the stories that got my attention one day and changed my life forever. There’s wonder-working-power in those stories of faith of the common person.
Today we turn to a Scripture we know well. It is found in John’s gospel, chapter 10. Jesus said, “I am the good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…. I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”
You might ask how does this ties in with the title of this sermon? Well, a few things. What is one of the most known Scriptures people have heard besides John 3:16???? I think it is the 23 Psalm. Everyone seems to know that one. They’ve heard it many times, especially if they have attended a funeral service. You may have memorized it in Sunday School class, or confirmation class. If my memory is correct way back when I was in elementary school after we said the pledge of allegiance we recited the 23 Psalm. That psalm is very comforting, very reassuring to someone who might be struggling. It offers hope to one going through the daily battles of our lives. It begins, “Because the Lord is our Shepherd, we have everything we need.” And it ends with “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Those words offer comfort and hope to us and it is a good message for the world. How about the story of the shepherd who went out in search of the one lost sheep even though there were 99 he left behind? Doesn’t that tell us something about who our God is? Doesn’t that tell us how much God loves us? Doesn’t it tell us how God continues to knock on the doors of lost souls? He comes looking for us when we get lost, or take a wrong turn, or fall in spiritual pit. He comes looking for us often calling our names to let us know he is there. And in the end of that parable we hear how there was rejoicing for one who was lost was found.
My mentor Rev. Willis Miller would often tell my story to others sometimes in a sermon, sometimes one on one. I would get embarrassed when I heard he did that. Later as I became a pastor in Illinois we traveled home for vacation and found this fine Christian man, with a heart for evangelism, and a great love of God, who had a hand in my transformation, and my going into the ministry, was in a nursing home with cancer, so we went to visit him. While we waited outside his room as they attended to him, someone else came to visit with him as well. We exchanged greetings and when I said who I was he said, “Oh, you’re the Dick Piscatelli that Willis talks about. We’ve heard your story.”
Checking out our closing hymn I came across two stories about the Good Shepherd. One of them happened to a retired Christian missionary doctor. He said when he was 15 years old, he lived in Japan. One day changed his life. On August 6, 1945 he left his hometown and went to Hiroshima to study engineering. The Japanese navy had taken over some of the buildings and he was asked to store some chemicals in a former gunpowder vault with foot-thick walls and an iron door. He was putting some of those bottles on the shelves when he felt a whoosh through the building. He didn’t see anything. He only felt this sudden, queer, unseen force. Two days later he regained consciousness as men were digging him out of the rubble. They carried him off to the hospital. He learned what happened that day as the atomic bomb fell on that city. Within two weeks’ time his hair fell out. He heard most of his friends had died. He lay on his hospital bed for over a year and had plenty of time to think. He marveled at how God had saved him. If it had not been for the thick heavy slabs covering him, the heat would have burned him up. The building, as it fell, could have crushed him. Or the radiation could have killed him. But here he was years later, a retired missionary doctor working with the people in Nepal. But now the rest of the story. Someone interviewed him and asked him if he was bitter. “You didn’t ask why this happened to you?” he was asked. His reply. “I asked why I was spared. I felt God must have a plan for my life. And so, I turned myself over to Jesus Christ.”
What an amazing testimony. What a wonderful story to tell about the Good Shepherd who comes in search of his lost sheep. Those are the stories that changes life after life. When one could have given up, he looked up. Instead of being discouraged, he was encouraged to believe by faith in Jesus Christ. God was watching over him.
I would love to hear your stories of faith, those stories where you met Jesus one day. You can tell me stories of special vacations, special places to eat, or places we ought to visit. That’s all great and interesting. But I would like to hear your God story, how Jesus saved your soul, or how God is working in your life now, how though things aren’t as good as they can be, with Jesus you are full of joy down deep in your heart. Those stories that tell how once you were lost but were found, was blind but now you see, for they are stories that inspire us knowing the God of the Old Testament, the God of the New Testament, is the same loving, healing, seeking God in our world today. It can excite a soul knowing that when we were like the Prodigal and we came to our senses, we turned to the God who was waiting to welcome us home.
Let me share how John Wesley, when he was 5 years old there was a great fire in their home and John was caught upstairs with the flames all around him. Everyone got out, but John was fast asleep and no one could get to him. With all the rest of the family safely away from the fire, they counted heads and realized John was missing. They stopped to pray for his soul believing he was lost because there was no way he could get out of there, and no one could go in because the fire was so strong. Just about then, they heard a voice calling out. It was John who made it to a window with the fire all around him. There was no ladder to be found but two neighbors got close enough to the house, and one stood on the shoulders of the other and reached up and plucked John from that burning home. As it is written, “he was plucked from the fire by the hand of God” because God had plans for this man whose faith one day would be changed listening to someone read an introduction to the book of Romans by Martin Luther.
The rest of his story we know, for he was a great preacher who was small in stature, but large in his understanding of God who one day was told to preach faith until he had it, and then preach faith because he had it. And thus, began a movement that we follow today, where we have been blessed by great preachers of the past that have continued the stories of the faith in order that we might know the God of heaven in a personal way.
“Because the Lord is our shepherd” we have everything that we need. Yes, that’s what David came to realize in his life as king of Israel. David was called out by God as a teen to be the next king of Israel. This boy who had the faith to go up against a giant with just a slingshot and a few stones while the giant stood mocking Israel’s faith for sending a child, and mocking the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This teenager looked at this giant as just another of those wolves that often attacked the sheep he would be guiding, and with the power of his God within him, and the faith that because God was his shepherd, he swung his slingshot and let it fly and that rock hit the only place that could have cut the giant down…. It hit him right between his eyes. Was David that good a shot? Or was that stone directed by His God? Score one for the shepherd boy. And all praise went up for the God of Israel who delivered the giant and the Philistines into David’s hands.
Stories of faith that if we think of them, or study them, will help us conquer our own giants that we face. Those giants of fear, or cancer, or heart condition, or loneliness, or any other struggles we have, and sometimes we have many. It is by faith that we become the winners, just like the heroes of our faith. And those stories aren’t just in the Bible. They come from real life persons like you and me. People who have found faith in different places, or in different situations. God knocks on the door, and if we open he comes in to be with us. He cleanses the soul and the body. And praise the Lord for those who write their testimonies on our hearts through hymns, songs, and books that they write. They are not fairy tales, but stories of a faith journey in order that we might know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
There was a Congregational minister who was working in Hawaii who said she no longer tried to explain theology, you know, trying to explain the things of God. She decided she would rather share how God had worked in her life. In Hawaiian terms, she just “talked her story.” She was able to share how God’s love changed her life, and she wanted others to know that love was there for them as well.
We know that Jesus called his disciples to follow him. He called them by name, to come follow and I will make you fishers of men. Today that is our call as well. The Good Shepherd calls us sheep by name to come, get in line and follow, for as the Good Shepherd he will take care of all our needs.
Carole, Sandy, Donna and myself had the wonderful experience enjoying a lunch recently and listening to Ken Bradbury and his friend Brock entertain us with hymns, and some old-time music. But what Ken said at the end of his show had great meaning for me. He said how he battled his cancer this past year or so and how he got through the most difficult times. Prayer of course, by himself and many, many people, like our church was one way. While lying on a bed at home he had one of those newfangled things, you know, where you just tell it to do something and it does it. He would say, “Alexus, say the Lord’s prayer” and it would. Or he would say, “Alexus, play “I need thee every hour” and it would bring comfort for him to fall asleep knowing God was right there with him. Then he said that since he is back doing some of the things he loves to do, many people have talked with him about his experience with cancer. So, he would tell his story. But the thing that stood out to me and I believe was a God moment, was when he said that because of his cancer battle, and it is now in remission, and the joy he has in his Lord, he has had more opportunity to share his faith story with more people than he would ever had known. God has used Ken’s illness, his recovery, his joy in all things, to reach people for Jesus. And it is a thrill for me just to share part of it this morning. So, thank you Donna for inviting us to join you for lunch, and to be part of those who heard Ken’s story of grace and healing.
Thank the Lord for those whose faith in Christ have helped us grow in our faith. Thank the Lord for those who have spread their stories in order for us to know the God who comes seeking us, offering us his hand of grace, mercy, comfort, hope and healing.
Yes, you do have a story to tell the nations. A story that will turn those who listen to faith in our God. What a wonderful privilege it is as God leads us to those who need to hear some stories of hope.
How blessed we truly are.
This week we continue the message of the Easter season. John’s gospel tells us near the end of the resurrection story and the encounter with Thomas this: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
With that thought in mind for this morning’s message two hymns came to mind. The first we’ve already sung. It should be the theme of every Sunday in every church. We sing it often on Palm Sunday as the kids walk around waving their psalms. “Tell me the stories of Jesus” we sing, “stories I love to hear. Things I would ask him to tell me if he were here.” Then our closing hymn is the second one. It is what we are commissioned to do as a church. It’s the commission Jesus gave his disciples at the end of Matthew’s gospel…” Go into all the world and tell my story of life and love.”
Yes, “We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right, a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light.”
Telling our stories. We’ve all got one. Sometime, somehow, as a believer in Jesus Christ you have had that encounter where Jesus became real to you. Each story is different. Last week we heard how Paul’s life was transformed by his encounter on the Damascus road. In another place we can read how an Ethiopian was riding along and who comes out of no where but Philip who asked what the Ethiopian was doing. He said he was reading Scripture but did not understand what he was reading. He said, “How can I understand unless someone explains it to me.” So, he invited Philip to come up and sit with him and explain it to him. Philip began to explain to him about Jesus being that lamb that was sacrificed that he was reading about. And as they traveled the road, they came to a water hole and the Ethiopian requested to be baptized into his new-found faith in Jesus Christ.
It’s amazing what can happen when you hear the stories of Jesus working in someone’s life. That’s how those stories ended up in the gospels and in the letters of Paul, Peter and John. They tell the story that lift hearts to the Lord above. Those are the stories that got my attention one day and changed my life forever. There’s wonder-working-power in those stories of faith of the common person.
Today we turn to a Scripture we know well. It is found in John’s gospel, chapter 10. Jesus said, “I am the good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…. I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”
You might ask how does this ties in with the title of this sermon? Well, a few things. What is one of the most known Scriptures people have heard besides John 3:16???? I think it is the 23 Psalm. Everyone seems to know that one. They’ve heard it many times, especially if they have attended a funeral service. You may have memorized it in Sunday School class, or confirmation class. If my memory is correct way back when I was in elementary school after we said the pledge of allegiance we recited the 23 Psalm. That psalm is very comforting, very reassuring to someone who might be struggling. It offers hope to one going through the daily battles of our lives. It begins, “Because the Lord is our Shepherd, we have everything we need.” And it ends with “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Those words offer comfort and hope to us and it is a good message for the world. How about the story of the shepherd who went out in search of the one lost sheep even though there were 99 he left behind? Doesn’t that tell us something about who our God is? Doesn’t that tell us how much God loves us? Doesn’t it tell us how God continues to knock on the doors of lost souls? He comes looking for us when we get lost, or take a wrong turn, or fall in spiritual pit. He comes looking for us often calling our names to let us know he is there. And in the end of that parable we hear how there was rejoicing for one who was lost was found.
My mentor Rev. Willis Miller would often tell my story to others sometimes in a sermon, sometimes one on one. I would get embarrassed when I heard he did that. Later as I became a pastor in Illinois we traveled home for vacation and found this fine Christian man, with a heart for evangelism, and a great love of God, who had a hand in my transformation, and my going into the ministry, was in a nursing home with cancer, so we went to visit him. While we waited outside his room as they attended to him, someone else came to visit with him as well. We exchanged greetings and when I said who I was he said, “Oh, you’re the Dick Piscatelli that Willis talks about. We’ve heard your story.”
Checking out our closing hymn I came across two stories about the Good Shepherd. One of them happened to a retired Christian missionary doctor. He said when he was 15 years old, he lived in Japan. One day changed his life. On August 6, 1945 he left his hometown and went to Hiroshima to study engineering. The Japanese navy had taken over some of the buildings and he was asked to store some chemicals in a former gunpowder vault with foot-thick walls and an iron door. He was putting some of those bottles on the shelves when he felt a whoosh through the building. He didn’t see anything. He only felt this sudden, queer, unseen force. Two days later he regained consciousness as men were digging him out of the rubble. They carried him off to the hospital. He learned what happened that day as the atomic bomb fell on that city. Within two weeks’ time his hair fell out. He heard most of his friends had died. He lay on his hospital bed for over a year and had plenty of time to think. He marveled at how God had saved him. If it had not been for the thick heavy slabs covering him, the heat would have burned him up. The building, as it fell, could have crushed him. Or the radiation could have killed him. But here he was years later, a retired missionary doctor working with the people in Nepal. But now the rest of the story. Someone interviewed him and asked him if he was bitter. “You didn’t ask why this happened to you?” he was asked. His reply. “I asked why I was spared. I felt God must have a plan for my life. And so, I turned myself over to Jesus Christ.”
What an amazing testimony. What a wonderful story to tell about the Good Shepherd who comes in search of his lost sheep. Those are the stories that changes life after life. When one could have given up, he looked up. Instead of being discouraged, he was encouraged to believe by faith in Jesus Christ. God was watching over him.
I would love to hear your stories of faith, those stories where you met Jesus one day. You can tell me stories of special vacations, special places to eat, or places we ought to visit. That’s all great and interesting. But I would like to hear your God story, how Jesus saved your soul, or how God is working in your life now, how though things aren’t as good as they can be, with Jesus you are full of joy down deep in your heart. Those stories that tell how once you were lost but were found, was blind but now you see, for they are stories that inspire us knowing the God of the Old Testament, the God of the New Testament, is the same loving, healing, seeking God in our world today. It can excite a soul knowing that when we were like the Prodigal and we came to our senses, we turned to the God who was waiting to welcome us home.
Let me share how John Wesley, when he was 5 years old there was a great fire in their home and John was caught upstairs with the flames all around him. Everyone got out, but John was fast asleep and no one could get to him. With all the rest of the family safely away from the fire, they counted heads and realized John was missing. They stopped to pray for his soul believing he was lost because there was no way he could get out of there, and no one could go in because the fire was so strong. Just about then, they heard a voice calling out. It was John who made it to a window with the fire all around him. There was no ladder to be found but two neighbors got close enough to the house, and one stood on the shoulders of the other and reached up and plucked John from that burning home. As it is written, “he was plucked from the fire by the hand of God” because God had plans for this man whose faith one day would be changed listening to someone read an introduction to the book of Romans by Martin Luther.
The rest of his story we know, for he was a great preacher who was small in stature, but large in his understanding of God who one day was told to preach faith until he had it, and then preach faith because he had it. And thus, began a movement that we follow today, where we have been blessed by great preachers of the past that have continued the stories of the faith in order that we might know the God of heaven in a personal way.
“Because the Lord is our shepherd” we have everything that we need. Yes, that’s what David came to realize in his life as king of Israel. David was called out by God as a teen to be the next king of Israel. This boy who had the faith to go up against a giant with just a slingshot and a few stones while the giant stood mocking Israel’s faith for sending a child, and mocking the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This teenager looked at this giant as just another of those wolves that often attacked the sheep he would be guiding, and with the power of his God within him, and the faith that because God was his shepherd, he swung his slingshot and let it fly and that rock hit the only place that could have cut the giant down…. It hit him right between his eyes. Was David that good a shot? Or was that stone directed by His God? Score one for the shepherd boy. And all praise went up for the God of Israel who delivered the giant and the Philistines into David’s hands.
Stories of faith that if we think of them, or study them, will help us conquer our own giants that we face. Those giants of fear, or cancer, or heart condition, or loneliness, or any other struggles we have, and sometimes we have many. It is by faith that we become the winners, just like the heroes of our faith. And those stories aren’t just in the Bible. They come from real life persons like you and me. People who have found faith in different places, or in different situations. God knocks on the door, and if we open he comes in to be with us. He cleanses the soul and the body. And praise the Lord for those who write their testimonies on our hearts through hymns, songs, and books that they write. They are not fairy tales, but stories of a faith journey in order that we might know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
There was a Congregational minister who was working in Hawaii who said she no longer tried to explain theology, you know, trying to explain the things of God. She decided she would rather share how God had worked in her life. In Hawaiian terms, she just “talked her story.” She was able to share how God’s love changed her life, and she wanted others to know that love was there for them as well.
We know that Jesus called his disciples to follow him. He called them by name, to come follow and I will make you fishers of men. Today that is our call as well. The Good Shepherd calls us sheep by name to come, get in line and follow, for as the Good Shepherd he will take care of all our needs.
Carole, Sandy, Donna and myself had the wonderful experience enjoying a lunch recently and listening to Ken Bradbury and his friend Brock entertain us with hymns, and some old-time music. But what Ken said at the end of his show had great meaning for me. He said how he battled his cancer this past year or so and how he got through the most difficult times. Prayer of course, by himself and many, many people, like our church was one way. While lying on a bed at home he had one of those newfangled things, you know, where you just tell it to do something and it does it. He would say, “Alexus, say the Lord’s prayer” and it would. Or he would say, “Alexus, play “I need thee every hour” and it would bring comfort for him to fall asleep knowing God was right there with him. Then he said that since he is back doing some of the things he loves to do, many people have talked with him about his experience with cancer. So, he would tell his story. But the thing that stood out to me and I believe was a God moment, was when he said that because of his cancer battle, and it is now in remission, and the joy he has in his Lord, he has had more opportunity to share his faith story with more people than he would ever had known. God has used Ken’s illness, his recovery, his joy in all things, to reach people for Jesus. And it is a thrill for me just to share part of it this morning. So, thank you Donna for inviting us to join you for lunch, and to be part of those who heard Ken’s story of grace and healing.
Thank the Lord for those whose faith in Christ have helped us grow in our faith. Thank the Lord for those who have spread their stories in order for us to know the God who comes seeking us, offering us his hand of grace, mercy, comfort, hope and healing.
Yes, you do have a story to tell the nations. A story that will turn those who listen to faith in our God. What a wonderful privilege it is as God leads us to those who need to hear some stories of hope.
How blessed we truly are.

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