Tuesday, October 22, 2019

“He’s got the whole wide world in His hands”

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Going in and going out
Sermon by Henk Moorman



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I want to read a passage with you from the gospel of John. John chapter ten, beginning at verse 1. It is a very well known passage.
 
“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;  buthe 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. Astranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
 
This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So 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 heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and to 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 hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own, and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
 
That part first. As I said, a very well known passage. He who goes in through me Jesus says, is safe. He who enters through me is saved.
 
I think that everybody here can say wholeheartedly: I have entered the fold. At one point or another I went in. Jesus was my door and I entered through Him. And through Him I found the way back to God again. He made it possible for me to be reconciled with God, so that things could be put right again between God and me. And now I am home and safe.
 
But then, Jesus says, when you have entered and are saved, then you will goin AND OUT again. That follows immediately afterwards. Entering and being saved is not the end, is not the goal.
Once we are inside then we think everything is okay, and that IS so. But immediately afterwards Jesus says, ‘and he shall not only go IN but also go OUT’.
 
What do you think of, when you here the words ‘go in’ here? It’s rather a  strange command, isn’t it, because you are already inside aren’t you, you went inside to be saved, and then after that you will go in and out, Jesus says, but I will come back to that later on.
 
First let’s consider the words ‘to go in’? What do you think of when you hear this expression?
Well,I would say it suggests safety. Inside you are safe. It is warm, you are in out of the cold, and someone is keeping guard.  Outside there are wolves, we just read.
Butnot inside, so there you are safe. Inside it feels so good, so familiar. Everything is as it should be. Everything has its own time and place and routine. You know what to expect and you know how everything works. You don’t need to worry about surprises. Surprises can be a nuisance. Inside it is all predictable, familiar, and always the same. Thank goodness for that, you may think.
 
It’s the same feeling you have when you are in your own home. And that makes you feel safe and calm and content. And fortunately there are a lot of things in our lives that are routine.
If everything was strange and different, and new, and if you kept on meeting with surprises, or something unexpected, that would drive you mad, and in the end you wouldn’t be able to cope. It would be really tiring and take up all of your energy. So in general there is nothing wrong with things being familiar and predictable.
 
Insiderefers also to an inner room. A place where you can have fellowship with your Father, and share things or just sit quietly and enjoy that feeling of togetherness, that intimate feeling of trust and understanding between you.
 
Insidealso refers to taking time to rest. To recharge your battery maybe. And also to take time to think things over. To consider all the things that happened to you on the outside. To think about how you reacted to all the things that happened to you. You may wonder if you should have reacted differently, or maybe it would have been better not to react at all. That’s what I mean by taking time to rest and recover from all that has happened. And that is done inside, and so that’s another reason why you have to go in.
 
But not only go in, but go out as well, it says. Go in and out.
In the passage that we read there are actually two pictures, two illustrations.  Did you notice that?
Oneillustration is about: I am the shepherd, the guard opens the door for Me, and I come and get my sheep and lead them outside. The other illustration is: I am the door, and the sheep go in and out through me. So in this one story there are actually two illustrations. You have to separate them in your mind, because Jesus can’t be the door and at the same time the shepherd   who goes through the door.
 
So go in and out. And did you notice the order they are in? Jesus says: He who enters through me is saved, and he will go in and out. So it is about someone who has just gonein and who is inside. And so you would expect it to say and he will go out. And as I said earlier when you are inside you would expect the first thing you could do is to go out, not in. A different translation says: he who enters through me is saved and will go out and not be worried. I think that is much more logical, but if you look at the original text then the first translation is more accurate. Let’s say they are both right. But I like the  other translation too: “He who enters through me is saved and he will go out and not be worried”.
And when it is put like that, then ‘going out’ does not seem such a scary thing any more. You can do it without worrying or being scared, because you know: my home, my base is inside, and I am saved.
 
So: go out, Jesus says. Not just go in but go out as well. So what do you think goingout means?
 
Going outis the opposite of going in, from being inside. It is leaving the shelter, and letting go of all the things that make you feel safe. Not discarding them, because you will often need this shelter and protection. But there comes a time when you have to let go, and go outside. That is something quite different to discarding it altogether. Have the courage to let go and venture out, because Jesus has given you that freedom. So have the courage to let go of everything that makes you feel safe. That doesn’t mean letting go of God, of course not. But letting go of the idea that you have to anxiously hang on to God, to cling to Him. He’s given you a life of freedom.
 
I once heard about a vision, and I’ve never forgotten it. It was about a father and two children. They were at the seaside. Can you picture them in your mind? The sea, the beach, the sand dunes. And the father is standing on a sand dune, near the beach. And of the two children one is playing on the beach by the water, and the other is clinging to his father. He hangs on for dear life to his father’s leg.
 
And the father says to the second child: ‘go and play and have fun. I will keep my eye on you. You don’t need to cling on to me all the time.
I will watch over you, go and enjoy yourself, enjoy your freedom, go and do whatever you want to, and be assured that I am watching over you all the time. And if you need me, I will be there. All you have to do is call me. Actually, you don’t even have to do that, because I will be watching over you all the time and I see what is happening.
 
And that knowledge gives your christian life more freedom. Then you know you don’t have to cling on to God all the time. After all, you belong together, whatever happens. That is a fact, and nothing can change that, and as far as God is concerned it is unconditional.
It is not dependent on whether you stay very, very close to Him. No. If you try to stay close to him by clinging on like that one child did to his father, then it is rather drastic. As if you are saying to yourself all the time, I must keep close to God and watch out that nothing gets in between Him and me, because if that happens maybe then I will do something what isn’t right, or maybe something bad will happen to me.
 
That’s not what God asks of us. God is so broadminded. He gives us so much space, so much freedom. And I think that THAT is what God is saying to us: “I am without boundaries, so don’t limit me, or yourself.
And be assured, you can trust me completely, and know for certain that I am keeping watch over your life. Know that I am the firm ground under your existence. Whatever you do, wherever you are.”  
 
Even if you go somewhere, where later on you say, that wasn’t such a good idea, that was wrong, it would have been better not to have done that, or gone there. And even if you did do something you later regretted, of which you later have to admit, no, that wasn’t such a good idea, that was wrong, still you know: the Lord says “but I was there with you, I know your intentions are good, I do not blame you”. That makes it easy for you to accept the challenge and venture out into the great unknown.
 
Going outalso means letting go of everything that is predictable and routine. I could almost say, of everything that you do mechanically. For there are a lot of christians who have a faith for inside the fold. And that is a faith that is predictable, where everything happens as it should. A faith that says: if I dothis, then that will happen. If I pray, then I know that the Lord will hear my prayer, that He will do what I ask. And if He doesn’t? Then the conclusion is: I must have done something wrong. Let’s see, what didn’t I do right? Did I pray “in Jesus’ name” ? Or have I some sins that are still not uncovered?
Because the system has to be right. And if it doesn’t work then there must be a fault in the system, we think, and then we start to look for that fault.
 
I don’t think that is how God thinks. God is different.Very different. Our sense of logic is based on cause and effect.
The idea that if you put a coin into a machine then something must come out. Something will happen, we can be sure of it. And that’s also how we see the agreements between God and us. 
 
It makes me think of a machine I saw in a shop once when I was a child. A sort of box with all sorts of toy animals in it, a monkey, a giraffe, and an elephant. Each animal had an musical instrument. And if you put a coin in the box all the animals started to move and make music. As children we thought it was wonderful. Every time we put the money in the animals started playing the music automatically. Again and again. And that’s what I mean by mechanical faith: Many christians think: if I spend enough time in devotion to God, if I do what He says, and spend time in worship, then He will automatically start moving and do what I expect. It is a mechanical sort of faith whereby people believe that if they do all the right things in the right way, that God will then be able to come into action and give them what they need.
 
And of course there are always texts to be found in the Bible to prove this: for example, “ask what you will in My name and it will be given to you”.
A lot of christians have that verse hanging above their beds.  Yes, but where do we read that? In the Bible, of course. I know that. But it is taken completely out of its context. The context is the passage about the vine and its branches. You can read it in John chapter fifteen. Jesus says: “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you abide in me, just as the branches remain on the vine, then you will bear much fruit”. So this passage is about bearing fruit, and in that context Jesus says: ‘ask what you want and I will give it to you’.
So the question is: which fruits do I want to bear, and if I share my desires with Him, I may be assured that he will fulfil them.
 
It is very importantnot to take the Bible verses out of their context, but to leave them in the context they were given, and try to understand what was meant by themin that context. SO often, texts are taken at random from the Bible and used as a foundation for a new doctrine or idea that someone has thought up. There is a verse to be found in the Bible for every possible idea you can think of, which could be used to substantiate it, and so to prove your idea is right. But every new idea has to be based on the principles of the Kingdom of God. 
And one of these principles is that we have a faith that saves the soul, as we read in Hebrews in chapter 10 verse 39, not a faith that gives us material prosperity or the answer to all our problems.
 
So not that automatic, mechanical faith. That’s not how God works. Not that routine, predictable faith, but daring to let go and trust more, that God will do what he says, and that is, that He will be there for you. Because that is what His name is: JAHWEH: I will be there. And maybe not in the pre-programmed way that we christians expect but “I will be there, in my time, and inmy way” God says.
And Hewill be, I promise you. You’ll see.
 
Going out is all to do with breaking away from rosters, and pre-programmed ways of thinking.
I remember when I first heard the gospel, that we had lessons, and we all made notes, as if God can be summed up in a number of lessons. Knowledge is not wrong, mind you. It is good and necessary. If you don’t have it, then you will get lost, take a wrong turning or be misled along a wrong path. So knowledge is useful, but knowledge in itself does not constitute life. Real life. And all the rosters and that mechanical faith is not real life either.
 
 
The kingdom of God is just like God himself, always full of surprises. Maybe that is something we will have to get used to, but God can’t be programmed. God is always surprising, and just a little different to the image that we have of Him. A good example is Zacchaeus, the tax collector. Everybody thinks he is a traitor and a crook. Someone to avoid as much as you can. You certainly don’t associate with him, or befriend him.  But Jesus did!  Jesus is just like his Father, completely different.  ‘Zacchaeus’, he says, ‘Today I want to come to your home’. That was not just surprising for the onlookers. It was shocking.
 
There is a little book called “The Visit” written by Adrian Plass. It is a story about how Jesus comes to visit the earth for a week. Fiction, of course, but still rather special. The writer describes how everything that Jesus did was completely different from what they expected. There is a church service, but Jesus isn’t there. And when they go to look for him then he turns out to be in a snack bar across the road. He was talking to someone and at that moment that conversation was more important.
And then there was another matter. There was someone in the congregation who was a homosexual. Just imagine the dilemma. That was a big problem. What should they do about him? After all it’s not right, it’s not as itshould be, and the dilemma is, should they throw him out of the church, or should theypray for him.
And then Jesus visits the earth, for one week, and when he goes to the church he takes this young man to one side and has a chat with him.  And when they come back everyone wants to know what Jesus said about him being a homosexual. And then it is very quiet and then the young man says: “Well, come to think of it, He didn’t talk about that at all”.
 
I thought that was a masterstroke. So surprising, astonishing or even shocking for some. Because we are so quick to judge. After all we know all the rules, what God allows and what not. But Jesus, like his Father, is completely different. He doesn’t judge, and always surprises us, and His mind works just that little bit differently to ours, and so He rises above all our rules and regulations about what is acceptable and what not.
 
Going outis also a question of finding your own way. Seeking your own way, and the Lord says: ‘I will make the paths straight’, but they are your paths, your way. “Make your paths known to me and I will make them straight” we read in Proverbs chapter three. But in order to do that, you have to go outside, because inside the fold there are no paths. Inside you sit or lie down comfortably. But the paths, your paths that the Lord can make straight, they are outside. And out there you can let yourself be guided. We sing in Psalm 23: He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. Well that would have to be outside wouldn’t it? Because there are norivers flowing indoors, and there are no green pastures either. There my be a bale of hay in the sheepfold, but that is quite different to green pastures.
 
Outside you will also have to brave the elements from time to time. Inside you are nicely sheltered, but outside it can get stormy, with strong winds and heavy rain. Sometimes you will have to contend with these elements when you are outside. And your reaction will be: This isn’t what I wanted. I’d rather be inside in the warmth and safety of the fold. That is understandable, but sometimes that’s how it is outside. And that comes with seeking your own way, it comes with going out into the unknown.
 
Outside is also the valley of deep darkness that we read about in the same Psalm, a valley of deepest darkness that you have to go through. Nobody wants to do that, you don’t choose to do that. But there may come a time when you find yourself in a deep valley, or gorge. When you reach a very low point in your life and it is very dark and scary. That can happen. And then it is important to know there is a Lord who says: “I am with you outside as well. Maybe it is because you are outside that I am with you. I will go with you through that dark valley.
And don’t worry, the fact that you are in that dark valley doesn’t mean you have done something wrong, it is just something that happens to you. And the Lord says, I am not going to stand at the end of the gorge like a beckoning light in the distance, no I am going to go with you. Through the darkness together.
 
Going outsidealso means using your skills and talents, because outside in the world you will need them much more than inside. Outside it comes down to what skills have you acquired? What fruits do you bear? What can you do? What talents do you have?
 
Andthen you will see why the Bible says: “you will serve the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your knowledge, with all your strength”. With everything you as a human being have been given. It is even the first commandment, Jesus says in Matthew chapter 22 verse 38. And God has great expectations of you. Because as a human being you have a lot of potential within you. You mustn’t think too lightly about that. Our strength may not be so great, but that doesn’t matter. Gods strength, His spirit will help and support you. And also give you advice. But on the other hand don’t underestimate your own potential and skills as a human being. God doesn’t!
 
Going out also means taking a step forward. Letting yourself be seen, just as you are, manifesting yourself, coming into the light. Because that is the immense project that God once started. “Let us make people in our image and likeness”, He says in Genesis. And that will eventually result in there being people of whom God can say: “I am at last all in all. Look at them, people in my image and in my likeness”. That’s what God wants, it says in Revelation. And that will only happen if people come forward, and are revealed as people who are in fellowship with God, and know Him intimately. They are the people who can show others what God is like, so that they too can experience how good He is and how full of love for His creation, for mankind. That is your mission in life.
 
Then you come to realise that things going well in the local church fellowship is not the only thing that is important. For God it’s about the whole of mankind. God loves the whole world, so much so, that He gave his only born son so that everyone who believes in Him could have eternal life. That’s just how big God’s plan is and how big his heart is. And that’s why it is important not only to go in, but also to go out, because otherwise how else will the world find out that there is a God who loves them, who loves the whole of mankind.
 
 
People who are focussed on going in, seem to talk mostly about God being their destiny, their purpose in life. But those who are focussed on going out , talk about God being the source of their life. That’s exactly the opposite, and they want others to be able get to know God as the source of their life too.
 
To goin, and to go out, and find green pastures. And you can only find those green pastures outside, can’t you? That means that you are fed outside. What you need in order to grow us to be found outside, and the things that you need to make you strong are outside. That’s where you find green pastures, and that is what sheep need.
 
So what do you think of as being green pastures? What do green pastures suggest to you? Because sheep may like the idea of eating green grass, but to be honest, not me. So what does it mean, to find green pastures?
 
Maybe you should consider what Jesus himself says, when He says to His disciples: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.” That’s what food means to me, Jesus says.
A different translation says: For me food is to do the will of Him who sent me”. And there we see that same idea of going out, being sent out. He is sent by the Father, the Father told him to go out.
The whole gospel testifies to this. Jesus is sent out into the world to show the people what God is like. And we regularly see that He also goes back in for a while. Then He goes to a quite place where He can be alone with His Father. “Father, I have to come in for a while, to take shelter with you. Because it is difficult out there, all the things that happen. I need to come in again, to seek fellowship with you, to hear your voice”.
In and out. You see that happen all the time in Jesus’ life. Doing the will of Him who sent Him out. The same goes for us, in our situation, in our own path of life.
 
So what does that actually mean: to do the will of Him who sent me? Well I think it is what we were just talking about. God says: I would really like the whole of mankind to hear and experience that I love them all. That’s why I sent my son, so that everyone who believes in Him should have eternal life. And eternal life is not just a question of time without end. That’s what we usually think about as eternal isn’t it?  Eternal, meaning, there will be no end, it will never stop.
But it means so much more too. It means without boundaries, without restrictions, unlimited. That is what eternal means. Living life to the full. Because otherwise you assume that eternal life begins when you die. That’s the moment that your eternal life begins and never stops. But that’s not it. Eternal life, life without restrictions, begins NOW.
 
If I look at my own life then, to be honest, it is full of restrictions and boundaries. So as far as that is concerned there is still a lot in store for us, much room for improvement. And I don’t suppose that will all happen in the time we have here on earth, but that doesn’t matter. Because we have the promise: whether you are on earth or whether you have let go of your earthly body, your life will continue and it will grow, and continue to change for the better. “He who knows me will not see death”,  Jesus says,
 
To go in and out. But if you go out then you are outside.
But don’t we, as christians, really belong Inside……? Don’t we belong inside the fold? In Psalm 27 it says: “One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life”. That doesn’t sound as if you should go out. I want to be inside the psalmist says. That’s where I want to stay.
 
‘The House of my father has many rooms’, Jesus says. So you could say, that is where you live, where you dwell, in the house of your Father, that is clear. So why do you need to go out again. Good question. It all has to do with what you understand the word “dwell” to mean. What do you think of when you hear the word “dwell”. I don’t know where your home is, where you live, but at the moment you are all here in this space, in this room.
If I ask you NOW where you live, then you won’t give the address of this hall. You will give the address where your house is, where you woke up this morning, and where you will be returning to after this service. And that is also precisely what a home, or dwelling is: the place from which you go out to undertake activities and where you return to, especially for the night. That is also the criteria for a large number of legal rulings in our country: if you spend more than half the nights in the week at an address, then that is your home. That means that you could quite easily live somewhere else, and can spend more time outside than inside. But you still live in that place, that is still your dwelling place,  because you keep on returning to it. 
That’s how I think it is with the rooms in the house of My Father.
Or in the fold. Whichever picture you choose. That is your fixed abode, your base from which you go out, and eventually also come back in. And when you are rested, then you go out again, but you still come back to your base. And despite the fact that often you are not in, you can still say: that’s where I live. That is my home.
 
That doesn’t mean that you always have to stay inside.  On the contrary if you say: this is my home and you never go outside the door, then there is something very wrong, isn’t there. Then maybe you are ill. If somebody never comes out of their house, then someone will start asking: are you alright? I never see you outside.
The source of your life is inside. And your destiny is outside. And going out has to do with your destiny, your purpose in life. Because if you say the purpose of my life is to be inside all the time and to praise God and have fellowship with Him, then I think that God will say to you at some time or other: I think it’s wonderful having you so near to me all this time but…………… Look around you. Open the shutters of your life. There are lots of other people whom I love and who don’t know me. How will they get to know me if you never go out and tell them. If you stay in with me all the time. And how will you develop into a mature person if you never go outside?
 
You become a mature human being in relationships with other people. Not by withdrawing even more into yourself, and studying yourself. But in relationships with other people. That is a sort of ground rule in the kingdom of God.
 
But, someone may say: I’d rather stay indoors because outside it is dangerous, and there are the wolves. Yes, but inside there are also problems. I regret to have to say it, but Jesus says: inside you come up against thieves and robbers. You wouldn’t expect it, but it is written there. That’s remarkable isn’t it? You would expect to be safe there inside the fold. Outside, that’s where danger lurks, but inside we are safe and protected, inside nothing can happen to us.
And then all of sudden it seems that there are people in the fold who have got in another way . There they are, those who have climbed over the wall to get in. A thief or a robber Jesus says. Should you be frightened of them? No, not at all, because it says here: my sheep don’t listen to them. As simple as that. They keep their ears shut and don’t listen. They only listen to the voice of the Lord.
 
And so what do the thieves and robbers do then? They come in to steal and to kill and to destroy, it says. That’s quite devastating. And of course we have to be careful that we don’t point the finger too quickly at people, suggesting that they are the thieves or robbers.
It is after all a spiritual activity. But as with all spiritual activities God’s enemy can only work if there are people who allow themselves to be used by him. It is important to distinguish the spirit, whether or not it is of God. Then the thief won’t be able to come and steal and kill and destroy, it says here. A different translation says: the thief will not come to steal and to kill, and to let you be lost.
 
Well, that’s strange. Didn’t Jesus just say: ”If you enter through me then you are saved?” And yet you could come up against people who could cause you to be lost again? Well I don’t think so!! Then I would rather take Jesus at his word when he says : If you entered through me then you are saved”.
But you could still be lost, only the question is lost for what? I think it means that you lose sight of your goal. Your purpose is to go out. But if you continue to sit snugly together inside chatting and discussing various topics, then you will miss your main purpose in life.
For example: if the congregation were to say: we have such a good time together, we know each other well, we feel the presence of the Lord here and we have such wonderful times of praise and worship, not to forget the nice coffee time afterwards, let’s just keep it all as it is. Of course it would be good if we could get more people to join us in these good times, then our church would be ever bigger….
 
I think if that is all you want to do, then you are missing your purpose, are a little lost for the mission in life that was intended for you. The mission of being a light in this world.
 
Just imagine that the Lord had to speak to us critically just as in the letters to the churches in the book of Revelations, and that he would say: ‘I have lost you a bit for the purpose that I wanted so much: that you would shine your light in dark surroundings.’ We wouldn’t want that to happen, would we? So don’t listen to those who say that if we remain close to the Lord then we will be okay. That is of course true, but it is only a half-truth.  That’s not the ultimate purpose.
 
Because this same Jesus, of whom it is written that He was sent by the Father, this same Jesus says: “just as the Father sent me, so I send you”. And by this I don’t mean that we all have to go as missionaries to another country. Not at all. That would mean that that christians all over the world will be passing each other in their travels to another country. No, it means you have to be a light just where you are. That sounds so trivial, so easy, but I think that is our mission, our purpose in life.
 
Going out involves a few more things. In the first place that you open your mind and heart to understand other people and their circumstances. Because otherwise it won’t work. For that, activity is needed, but ‘going out’ is first and foremost a state of mind, and then an activity. It begins with being approachable for others.  Being really interested in other people. It also means that other people will notice this. That they will find you easy to approach. And that also means that you don’t raise yourself above someone else. The higher I raise myself, the less approachable I am for the other person. And that is what is often said about christians isn’t it? That they are ‘holier than thou’ people. “You think you are better than we are” they say, or ‘you look down on people who don’t believe” or “you are on your best behaviour on Sunday, but look what happens the rest of the week.”
To be areal christian means that you see yourself as equals with other people, so that you stand beside them and not far above them. That you don’t start by passing judgment on them because of what they do or how they are, but that you show genuine interest in them by saying: “tell me, what has happened to you to make your life as it is. What is your story, what happened to you.” And that’s what I think is so wonderful about God, that He doesn’t judge at all. “I did not come to judge the world” He says “but to save”.
 
What a wonderful and happy gospel for mankind. Of course you sometimes come across strange things, and across people who believe things that make you wonder, however did they get that idea?
But the fact is they do believe these things, and I can criticise them and their beliefs, but that won’t help them, and I certainly won’t win their trust that way.  I think that just like God we should look at the intentions of people, what does the person really want, deep down. Because God looks at the heart, the Bible says. I think that if you pray in this line: “Lord, help me to have open ears so that I can hear the sound of the sheep who have wandered off amongst the thorns and thistles”, that then you may be sure that your prayers will be answered.
 
 
And the remarkable thing is that the people who are judgemental are nearly always people who always stay inside. Because they are used to how it is: how it should be. A fixed routine, a fixed way of doing things, always the same pattern and anything that is different, or anyone who doesn’t fit into these patterns, is strange and wrong.
 
And if that’s the way you think, then you are really quick to judge. And if they want you to accept them, then these people have to make a choice: either adapt quickly, or leave. And so they don’t get to meet the God who would have accepted them, just as theyare.
‘Do not judge, so that you will not be judged’, Jesus says. They are harsh words. Do not judge Henk Moorman, so that YOU will not be judged, because you will be judged with the same measure that you judge. Not by God! Because He does not judge or condemn.
 
But what I do and how I am is determined by the ideas I have in my mind. If I am always measuring people up against my own ideas, then it is only logical that  I presume that other people measure me up in the same way. So if I stop criticising others, then I will not be hampered by criticism in my own life.
 
The writer of Ecclesiastes says: For everything there is a time. A time to sow and a time to harvest. There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. And I think that applies to what I am saying here too. There is a time to go in, and a time to go out. So you don’t have to go away thinking that you have to go out all the time. No.
And there may even be a time in your life that you say: please just let me sit inside for while. I need that now. I just want to feel safe for a while. I need a rest, now is not the time for me to be outside. That’s fine. Enjoy the safe feeling inside and don’t feel guilty. But look for the balance. In many things in your life the important thing is to find a balance. And that applies here too. With going in and going out.
 
How? How do I go out? That’s a good question.  I can’t give you the answer to that. I can have thoughts and ideas about my own life, but I can’t decide for others. HOW should you go out? At any rate with the same attitude as  the One who says to you: “I am the Good Shepherd, I will lead you out, and I will be there in front of you, going before you”. You have His promise, so ask the Lord.
 
Amen.
 
 
 
Shall we pray?
 
Lord Jesus, thank you for listening to Your Father and doing what He asked you. Thank you for going out and showing us how good and full of love the Father is. Thank you Lord for suffering all that you had to go through to make this possible. All the opposition and ridicule and pain that you had to bear in order to show us how good God is.
 
Thank you Lord. I pray that we will do the same. That we will believe You when you say that you will go before us and lead us out.
Out, maybe not to spectacular things, but with an attitude that shows that we care about the people around us, people with that same desire to get to know God.
 
I pray Lord that we will learn to develop an insight into the needs of people around us. That we can go in and out and back in again, so that in fellowship with you, we can fulfil our destiny, fulfil the purpose of our lives and spread your gospel. Lord we bless each other with this thought, and pray that we will learn to recognise your voice.
 
Amen