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I Lack [John 10]

03.31.2024 - I Am Not Enough

[John 10 and Psalm 23:1]

To get us started this morning, I want to show you two different headlines. First, this one is a couple years old

but it reads “America Is Safer Today Than It Has Been In Decades.” The article goes on to describe how, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, crime in that year was half what it was in 1990. MUCH safer in 2016 than in 1990. The second headline I want to show you is this one

 For those who can’t see it, the headline reads, “Personal Safety Fears at Three Decade High in U.S.” This comes from just last year, and at one point it says, “40% of Americans are afraid to walk alone at night near their home, which is the highest it has been in 3 decades.” According to the actual numbers, the world is getting safer - and yet, we are more afraid than ever. Why is that? I grew up in the 90’s - and in my mind it’s this, like, idyllic time of safety and security. We would just get on our bikes and go - no cell phones, no trackers, no worries. And yet, the most popular description of the modern world, which according to the numbers is SO MUCH SAFER, the most popular description we use is a “dumpster fire”! Have you seen this gif? [dumpster on fire moving down the river] People post this and say, “this totally describes my year.” They make novelty dumpster fire candles, check this out - [show picture]. We THINK the world is so much worse, even though the truth doesn’t match. Why is that? Why are we so afraid? Why are we so stressed out all the time? What lies are we telling ourselves to keep us from seeing the truth of our situation?

Today we are starting a brand new sermon series called “The Lies I Tell Myself” - and I’m really excited about this study. We’re going to walk through Psalm 23, which is one of the most famous Psalms ever written - and we’re going to see that God speaks truth into the lies. Like a flashlight in a dark room, what we will see is that God’s truth pushes back the darkness and helps us to see the world as it really is. And this is the easiest series ever, because we’re going to take it one verse at a time. All you gotta learn today is one verse. Psalm 23 verse 1 - “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” My translation says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” And so today, we are going to pull apart the lie “I am not enough.” Have you ever thought that about yourself? I am not enough. I know I have. Sometimes it’s a jealousy thing - like, I don’t have as much as I want. And sometimes it’s just a survival thing - I am not enough to handle the problems that are in front of me. All of us, at some point in our lives, we have felt like we LACK something, and some of us have even built up a life of constant striving, always pushing, always grinding because it is never enough. We might have a really wonderful life, but somehow we are still miserable because there’s a discontent in our hearts. Maybe some of you have painted a backdrop for yourself, you have set up a framework, told yourself a story where the driving force is “I lack” - but what we are going to do today, and for the next couple of weeks, is let God’s word break through this false story we tell ourselves. We are going to let the truth give us reassurance and a new lease on life. You know Jesus talked about this. Psalm 23 says, “the Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need” and there’s a moment in Jesus’ life where he says, “That’s me - I am that shepherd” - so let’s take a closer look at what he said.

If you want to turn with me to your bibles, or look it up on your phone, I’m going to dive into John chapter 10, which is when Jesus starts teaching us about the good shepherd. It starts out, [read v.1-5]. So it kind of sets us up with this goofy picture. And you can imagine a sheep pen, all the sheep nestled in for some sleep, and a bandit comes climbing over the wall. But sheep don’t like strangers. They’re going to look at the thief and say, “who the heck are you?” And then Jesus paints the rest of the picture, “nah, nah, nah - the shepherd is the guy who comes in the front door. He’s the one they know, and they follow him because they recognize his voice. And I love this moment, because it probably seems super obvious to you and me.  We read it, and we’re thinking - “yeah, of course - Jesus is the shepherd, duh” - but they didn’t get it back then. And I love it, because Jesus takes the time to explain it to them. Verse 6 [read v.6a]. You’ll learn this as we go - but I can trick people into thinking I’m clever, but I’m actually a pretty simple guy. I spend a lot of time trying to take the message of the bible and make it easy to understand. Because sometimes I’ll read something in the bible and think, “I have no idea what that means” - but it makes me feel better, because the disciples were kind of idiots too. The amount of times it says, “the disciples heard Jesus’ words, but they did not understand” is so reassuring. And I don’t say that to make fun of the disciples - I say that as reassurance, because if they’re struggling that makes me feel better when I’m struggling. I had a friend reach out with a question about last week’s sermon - and they asked, “hey, you explained the first part of the verse - but what does the rest of the verse mean?” And I did my best to explain it, and she was like, “sorry, I’m a little green in my faith walk” - but I was thrilled that she was asking questions. I was like, “are you kidding me? We all start somewhere - getting to know Jesus.” And what we see in the text is that Jesus takes the time to explain it to them. I’m the shepherd, you are the sheep. So, when Jesus says, “the sheep follow the shepherd, because they know his voice” - what we learn from that is that we need to learn Jesus’ voice. Sheep follow voices that they know, and so do humans. In your life, you will follow the voices you listen to the most, even if those voices are lying to you. Familiarity creates trust, and right now some of us are listening to bad voices, just because they are familiar. 

It’s kind of like this, have you ever gone to a function - like a big group event, and you don’t know anybody? But then you see, across the room, somebody you recognize? Isn’t it crazy how suddenly that person becomes your best friend. Like, you might barely know them - but they have a familiar face and that’s all you need to feel secure. In our lives, we follow the voices we listen to most. Followers of Jesus know his voice, and so the first step to pushing back the lies and following the good shepherd is to know his voice. 

Verse 10 keeps us going, [read v.10-11]. Okay, so this is really cool. There’s two parts - first, we’ve got to talk about this thief. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. And I think in the modern world we could add “profit.” In your life there are a thousand voices screaming for your attention, and most of them are not giving you the truth, or at least they’re not giving you the whole story. Whether it’s advertisers or news agencies, politicians or the social media algorithm - there is a narrative that is crafted around us that feeds us a message: “you do not have enough. You are not enough. You lack.” And I don’t think they’re all evil corporations that are trying to destroy us - I think they want to profit! Like that famous line from the movie Fight Club, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” And so much of our world is structured around attention - they get more money, when they get your attention - and so they use scary words or exciting headlines to stir you up. I mean ask yourself this question - what do you use in your life to meet your unmet desires? What makes you feel better when the world feels unsafe, or unkind? For some people it’s accomplishments - I just have to DO more - money, work, family, sports. I just have to DO. For others drugs or alcohol, or endless scrolling on social media, or even just food. There’s a reason they call it comfort food. Anything to keep us from feeling our feelings. 

The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. The world is obsessed with teaching you the lie that you lack. But Jesus… the good shepherd, his purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life. And it’s not just his purpose, it’s who he is! Jesus says up in verse 7, “I’m not just the shepherd, I’m the gate!” I’m the way you get to this contentment. He’s not just leading us to a satisfying life, he is the one who gives it to us. Because without Jesus - you DO lack, but when you have a relationship with Jesus. When he is your lord, he is your savior - when you experience the contentment that comes from knowing and acknowledging that you are loved by the God who created you - you become bulletproof. Come what may - whatever the world might bring, whatever struggle or challenge or fear you might have - it will never touch your status as someone who is loved by their creator. If you’re here this morning, and you don’t know Jesus - or maybe you’ve heard of him, but you don’t follow him… I struggle to find the words to describe how incredible it is to be loved by God. I’m going to come back to this at the end, but I want to plant the seed now - consider giving your life to Jesus, his purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life. A rich and satisfying life comes when you choose to follow the shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. Let me put it this way - there is nothing you could own, have or be in this world that will compare to being someone God would die for. On Friday, Jesus told the world - you are worth dying for, and that is better and more valuable than any bank account, accomplishment or security this world can offer. Jesus, THE Jesus, he really does love you.

Verse 17, [read v.17]. You see it, right? Sacrifice my life, so I may take it back again. He’s talking about Easter! He’s talking about the resurrection - defeating sin and death. Lay down my life, to take it back again. It’s kind of like - you ever watch murder mystery movies? I always love movies that have a big puzzle for us to figure out, and then at the end, if they did a good job, you’re totally shocked and surprised by the big reveal. But then - when you go back and watch the movie a second time, it’s totally obvious and you can’t believe you missed it before. Oh my gosh, I didn’t even see that before. We know what’s coming for Jesus - the stone has been rolled away, the tomb is empty - but I can’t believe I missed all these clues along the way.

But the people are STILL having trouble understanding or believing Jesus. Down in verse 24, [read v.24-28]. This is where Easter really matters - Jesus says, “the proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.” Maybe you’re tracking along so far - Jesus is the good shepherd, got it. We should listen to his voice - sure. His purpose is to give the sheep a rich and satisfying life - and maybe you’re following all of that, but you’re still not sure. Maybe you are here today and you want to believe it, but the lie is really convincing. The picture the world is painting for you has you ensnared. Maybe you’re stuck in that mindset of scarcity. You’re trapped in this cage where the bars are made up of all the lies we tell ourselves. Nah, this world is a dumpster fire and it’s never getting any better. That Jesus stuff is just pie in the sky, he doesn’t love me. I’m not enough, I’ll never have enough. I lack. He can’t give me contentment - I’m not sure I believe it. Well they didn’t believe it back then either! And Jesus doesn’t hide from it. He is not afraid of your doubts or your struggles. He’s happy to prove it. At one point, they actually start picking up rocks to throw at Jesus, because he’s claiming to be God - and so he responds in verse 37, [read v.37-38]. If you want to break free from the lies of a world full of sin and death, how about listening to the one who defeated sin and death. The empty tomb isn’t just a symbol. It’s evidence designed to reassure us. This is what I want you to remember from all that - the resurrection is our reassurance. If the Romans or the Jewish leaders wanted to destroy Christianity while it was just getting started - all they had to do was show us a body. Prove that he was dead, and everything he did goes away. And they tried! You’ve heard the story right? They had guards! Big giant rock to block the tomb - they tried to keep that body in the ground. But the tomb is empty. Jesus is alive. And because of that, we can be confident that his truth is going to break through the lies. His light is going to outshine the darkness.

The good news that I have for you this morning, and I’ve already said it a bunch of times, but I’m going to keep saying it - because this is my whole point, this is the one line where everything comes together. If you fell asleep, that’s okay - just wake up for this one sentence and then you can go back to sleep. I’ll try to keep it down. The good news that I have for you this morning is that Jesus is the good shepherd, you need nothing else. If Jesus is the shepherd of your life, and you follow his voice and you trust where he is leading you, then you lack nothing.

Let me put it to you like this - do you ever feel like peace is impossible? The grind is SUCH a grind, the rat race is a hamster wheel - we just tell ourselves, “things will calm down next month” and we repeat that every month forever until we die. When we believe the lie of scarcity, when we let the world tell us “I lack. I lack. I lack”  - we will never find contentment. Ask yourself this question - what would it take to “have enough?” Take your salary for example. You make X amount of money, but most people feel that they need a little more to feel safe, secure and content. My wife showed me this graph a couple months ago and I thought it was so crazy.

 For those who can’t see it, it’s a graph detailing incomes. And they asked people in each income range, “how much do you need to feel satisfied?” People who make 25 thousand a year, feel they would be satisfied if they made 34 thousand. Down at the bottom, those who make 200 thousand think they need a salary of 350 thousand dollars - but the important part of the chart is that every single income bracket believes they need more. Ask yourself, “what would it take to “have enough”? Because I promise you, even if you achieve it - the answer will always grow. And there’s a reason for that - there’s a reason we have infinite unmet desire. Dallas Willard put it like this, “Desire is infinite because we were made by God, made for God, made to need God, and made to run to God. We can be satisfied only by the one who is infinite, eternal, and able to supple all our needs; we are only at home in God. When we fall away from God the desire for the infinite remains, but it is displaced upon things that will certainly lead to destruction.” The feeling that you are lacking, that unlimited, insatiable desire in our lives that keeps us away from living a satisfied, content life - it actually points us to the truth. You were made to be satisfied ONLY by a connection to God. It’s the only thing in this life that can actually fulfill you. 

Last week, you might remember the power went out in the middle of second service. There was a car accident or something happened, and for a couple hours like a thousand people around us lost power. And even though it’s nice to have electricity and lights and screens and all that cool stuff - all that extra stuff, that’s not why we are here. We are here to worship Jesus, to hear from his word, and to be in community with each other. So when the power went out - it barely slowed us down. In fact, if anything - stripping away all the fancy stuff of church made it more impactful, and I heard people making jokes about how we’re going to need to drive a car into an electric pole once a month. (Dear Lord, please hear our prayer - that was a joke. Please let us keep having electricity. Amen) [laugh]. When all you need is Jesus, you hold on to the rest of the world loosely. 

Jesus is the good shepherd - his sheep listen to his voice, his purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life and the resurrection is our reassurance - this is what the text shows us today. So let me take all these teachings and bring it together for one challenge for you. I want you to take this as an action step from here into the rest of your week. I want you to listen to Jesus’ voice. Let Jesus be the loudest voice in your world. And maybe that means you have to turn down some of the other voices. I get, what 25? 30 minutes (if i’m feeling wordy) on a Sunday morning to speak the words of Jesus into your life? Some of you have consumed more tiktok videos than that by breakfast. Sunday morning cannot be the only time you connect with Jesus - it’s not enough! Reach for Jesus. Open the bible (and if you get stuck, ask questions - that’s cool). Talk with Jesus, get in the regular habit of making Jesus the one you reach for when you’re feeling discontent. 

Our world is full of lies. Even if it’s not outright lies, it seems like every voice out there slants things - because fear sells. Sensational stories get clicks. And it’s been dialed to 11 for so long, a lot of us have become numb. I mean, we all know that left wing media outlets are going to slant things in a progressive direction, and right wing media outlets are going to slant things in a conservative direction - but ALL of them try to slant things to make them more scary. Fear gets more clicks. Fear gets more ads. Fear gets more money. Fear mongering in media is a very real problem for all sides, and the only one who loses is you. So you’ve got to turn down the volume on the world, and listen for the good shepherd’s voice.

Lies make us afraid. Maybe you are brand new this morning, and you’re wanting to take the next step - but fear is holding you back. Maybe you still believe, “I am not enough” “If I reach for Jesus, I’m going to get struck by lightening, or the walls are going to catch fire or something.” I am not enough, I lack. But the only antidote for that lie is to hear his voice. Jesus is the antidote to our fear. Psalm 23 gives us a word of reassurance, a word of truth to cling to. “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.” Maybe you walked in today with the lie, “I lack something’ or “I have to fix myself before I can come to Jesus” or maybe “I just need a little more of [insert thing from the world] before I can be content”  - but here’s what I want you to do today. I want you to trade that lie for the truth. When you walked in this morning, you probably found a card on your seat. If you are considering making a decision to walk with Jesus, I want to encourage you to fill out that card. If you want to dive deeper, fill out that card and we will walk with you as you explore the next steps of following Jesus. Are you ready to follow the good shepherd, who will lead you to a rich and satisfying life? In just a moment, the worship band is going to lead us in our final song, and I want to give all of you a chance to enter into a time of prayer. As we begin this series, I want you to hold the lies we tell ourselves in front of you.

[lies on the screen] If you look on the screen you can see the lies we tell ourselves, and the truth we will be replacing them with. And if you feel led, please come and grab one of these cards from the table up front. They have the lie on one side, and God’s truth on the other side. And if you’re ready to take the next step, I want you to come up front and put your response card in this basket, and replace it with a card that has God’s truth on it. It’s time that we let God’s truth shine into the darkness. Let’s pray. 


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