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“The Flourishing Life Journey” Introduction // John 10:10

Mary Ellen Ermis September 11, 2022 sermons, cityrise, houston, John, Roger Patterson, The Flourishing Life Journey, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, September 11, 2022 at our West U Baptist campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.

If you have your Bibles, let’s turn to John 10. Now, it’s kick-off Sunday. Just down the street, the Texans will take the field against the Indianapolis Colts. The Baylor Bears took on Brigham Young yesterday and lost. The Aggies were upset by Appalachian State from Boone, North Carolina, and the University of Texas almost upset the Alabama Crimson Tide.

I think you all know how much I love sports. And I think you know that I see sports as a teacher about life.

So, it’s interesting as you start a new sports season because different teams’ narratives from year to year almost reflect the narrative of people’s lives.

For instance, there may be that guy you went to high school with who always seems to be winning. The car he drives…the house he lives in…what he tells you about his successes when you all get together. He is always boasting on his social media. Then, when football season rolls around, he rolls out an Alabama flag.

His flag isn’t just a little pole hanging off of his front porch…No, he has to have a 30 foot tall flag pole in front of the house and get FAA clearance to fly his flag.

Like Alabama football, this guy always seems to be winning. It’s annoying, but his outlook isn’t one where he is just surviving. Instead, it’s one where he always seems to be thriving.

You on the other hand are a University of Texas football fan. You love your team. You love going to the games. You love it when they play the University of Louisiana-Monroe. But when Alabama comes to town, you know without a doubt the pastor is going to find a way to work this into a sermon.

Now, I didn’t get to see the game, but it looks like UT may be building something. But at the same time, there have been all sorts of starts and stops and so you don’t know where this is headed.

And people’s lives look like that as well.

It’s start…and stop. You feel like you can only get so far. As a matter of fact, your HOA won’t let you do a flagpole of any kind, so you are very limited in showing your team spirit in front of your home.

It’s just hard to get traction and momentum and know that your team is moving in the right direction.

Now, I know I had some fun with that, and I love you guys who are Longhorns. But it illustrates a point that really mirrors life.

Why do some teams thrive and flourish over the long haul while others flounder and battle to simply survive.

Most of you know of Sigmund Freud and his work in psychology. Freud, along with Schopenhauer, told us that…

The best we can do in life is not to be miserable. The best we can do in life is not to suffer. The best we can do in life is approach zero.

In other words, the best we can do is simply survive. And many people live their lives that way with that outlook.

So many of our young people approach life this way as well – it has no meaning.

Darwin’s survival of the fittest is how some approach life, relationships, and business.

But when you look at the way of Jesus, you see something very different. You hear Jesus say that in a relationship with me, you don’t’ have to flounder. No, you can flourish.

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Now, what is this abundance? What does it look like to flourish? What does it mean to have a live that is thriving?

  • Does it mean you never have any problems?
  • Does it mean you name it and claim it?
  • Does it mean you will be rich?
  • Is this the prosperity gospel?

OR does it mean something else?

Jesus never promised you riches. This isn’t a name it claim it gospel. Jesus said, “In this life you will have trouble…so it’s not problem free living, free of suffering.

No, the flourishing life…the abundant life is something more.

Definition of Abundant: The word translated as abundant means:

  • More
  • Greater
  • Excessive
  • It is used as an adjective and adverb and appears 23 times in the New Testament.
  • Simply put, the term denotes something that is beyond what is expected, and in every direction.

William Barclays adds that the word abundant also has a mathematical meaning and generally DENOTES A SURPLUS. He says…

“The abundant life is above all the contented life, in which our contentment is based upon the fact that God is equal to every emergency and is able to supply all our needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.”

And I would say AMEN to what William Barclay declares here.

I was on the phone once again, with Rachel Crochet yesterday. Her husband, Dub, has been hospitalized for more than a year from Covid 19. He first went into the hospital on August 12, 2021.

The doctors declare that he is a miracle. He should not be alive. That’s the bottom line. Dub is doing well and they see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the good news is that the light is not a train, as a friend of mine told me.

As I prayed with Rachel once more yesterday, I asked the Lord to continue his supply toward them, that they would abound even in this situation. She could do nothing but praise the Lord for sustaining and healing Dub.

It’s so encouraging, that at every turn, through the ups and downs of the trial that has lasted more than a year, that she is simply praising God for his provision, his care, his love, and his compassion.

The abundant, flourishing life, isn’t a life where you are free of suffering. No, it’s a life where you realize that you have a good shepherd who is walking with you through every valley and every challenge and no matter what you are facing, He has am ample supply to see you through.

More than that, we are going to be studying this idea through the year…What is this Flourishing Life and What are my Next Steps that I need to take in order to Continue on this Journey?

So, let’s spend a minute understanding the background of why Jesus made this statement in the first place — “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.”

In John 9, Jesus has healed a man who was born blind. This man is healed on the Sabbath, and it is quickly reported to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were part of the ruling class and they had tremendous influence.

This man is brought before the religious rulers and is questioned. He simply says, “Look, I was blind, but now I see.”

They then bring his parents to testify. They say, “He is of age, ask him.” And John 9:22 tells us why they responded this way.

John 9:22

(His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)

So, the Pharisees then call the man who was healed before them once again. And it is here that they once again question him.

Look at it in John 9 with me.

John 9:24-34

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

Things are hot here. Things are popping. In John 8, Jesus told them, “Before Abraham was, I am.” And as John 8 closes, they picked up rocks to stone him because he claimed to be God. Jesus slipped away from them, but as you get further into John’s gospel, you get closer and closer to the cross and the animosity toward Jesus is increasing rapidly.

It’s in this context that Jesus begins to teach his disciples who he is and what he does. And here is what I want you to hear today:

If you are going to find a life that is abundant and flourishing, it is found in, through, and because of Jesus Christ.

All of us know that there is more. We know that it is more than what Freud and Schopenhauer taught – that the best we can expect to do is not be miserable. We know, and we chase after it.

And even when we succeed in a number of ways, we think, like Tom Brady, “Is this all there is? There’s got to be more than this!”

There is. It’s living in God’s abundant kingdom. It’s thriving. It’s flourishing with:

  • meaning,
  • purpose,
  • devotion,
  • delight,
  • service,
  • and accomplishment that is for the glory of God.

So, let’s look at this.

Let’s read John 10:7-18

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 listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

What is it that Jesus does to secure this abundant, flourishing life for us?

The first thing we see is that…

The Good Shepherd Lays Down His Life For Us to Bring Us Salvation.

I.  The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep .

Look at verses 11, 15, 17, and 18.

John 10:11

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 

John 10:15

…just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 10:17-18

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

This is the means by which the sheep enter in.

The Flourishing Life begins with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is salvation, where we are saved from the thief.

Notice what Jesus says about the thief.

John 10:10a

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

Pastor Bart Box suggests that there are two designs upon our lives—the design of the “thief”—that is, Satan—and the design of Christ.

  • The Design of Devastation. This is the design of the thief.
    • He is not open about his ways, but is concealed, knowing that we would not like this path if we could see it clearly.
    • He shows us the immediate pleasures but conceals the inevitable wreckage.
    • His design his comprehensive; he comes with only one purpose—to kill, steal, and destroy.
    • He is utterly devoted to destruction, and he is also intentional about total destruction—notice that he “comes” to bring this.
    • He has a purpose in mind, and he has a plan to bring it about.

All of us are in need of rescue from the thief. We, like Adam, and all of mankind, have fallen for Satan’s craftiness. We have been invited to sin. We have been invited to exalt ourselves with pride. We have bought the lie that we can be like God and we don’t need God.

There is no one righteous and without sin.

Romans 3:23

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

We need rescue.

We need deliverance.

We need salvation from Satan and his ways.

We need deliverance from death to life.

  • The Design of Delight. This is the design of Jesus, and it could not be contrasted any more than the design of the thief.
    • His aim is not that of destruction, but life—and more than that, abundant life.
    • And this abundant life is about having what only God can offer, eternal life!
    • The design of Jesus is simple, he wants us to have knowledge of God and to trust in Him, as we see over and over again throughout John’s gospel. As John 17:3 says…

John 17:3

“This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

Salvation is available because, when Christ laid down His life for me, it created a way for my salvation.

In Psalm 22, written some 1,000 years before Jesus was born, we see prophecy about what would take place on the cross. This is also centuries before crucifixion was invented. I want to draw your attention to:

  • Psalm 22:1
  • Psalm 22:14-18

Psalm 22:1

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”

Do you remember how Jesus cried this from the cross.

Look at the level of detail in Psalm 22:14-18 as it notes how the Good Shepherd laid down his life for His sheep.

Psalm 22:14-18

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

Look at this level of detail. Read John’s Gospel to the end and see these details listed just as it appears here in Psalm 22.

Jesus willingly laid down his life.  And why? Why again did He do this?

What does He say?

John 10:9

 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 

  • Christ’s death opens the door to my salvation.
  • Christ’s death provides a way for me to be reconciled to the Father.
  • And the promise for this salvation is everlasting life.

In Psalm 23, David says it this way:

Psalm 23:6b

…and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

So, how do I access this eternal life?

During the Spanish-American War, Clara Barton was overseeing the work of the Red Cross in Cuba. One day Colonel Theodore Roosevelt came to her, wanted to buy food for his sick and wounded Rough Riders. But she refused to sell him any. Roosevelt was perplexed. His men needed the help and he was prepared to pay out of his own funds. When he asked someone why he could not buy the supplies, he was told, “Colonel, just ask for it!” A smile broke over Roosevelt’s face. Now he understood–the provisions were not for sale. All he had to do was simply ask and they would be given freely.

Friend, the answer is the same. That’s why it is called Grace. You don’t have to pray a certain number of times a day. You don’t have to Do anything. You can’t do enough, and you know it. Your heart testifies against you that you are a sinner and you cannot earn your way into the presence of a holy God.

So, instead of trying to buy it…instead, Ask for this salvation. Call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

Romans 10:9-13

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The Abundant life that Christ offers doesn’t end with the establishment of our salvation.

It begins here.

What else do we see that Jesus does for us to bring us an abundant life that flourishes?

Jesus, as our Good Shepherd, brings us Security.

John 10:9 — I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 

II. The Good Shepherd brings to our lives:  Security

Confidence – in and out freely, press into Him and go out confidently.

Psalm 23:1-4

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

With His security is:

  • Contentment – v. 1 – not in want, but peace/lack of anxiety
  • Rest — v. 2 – He makes me lie down in safe nourishing pastures
  • Restoration – v. 3 a – He restores my soul
    • He restores my vitality, vigor, strength; to renew or to invigorate –

With His security is:

  • His Guidance – v. 3b — He guides me in paths of righteousness for his renown
  • His Presence – v. 4 — Even though…You are WITH me!

Because He is with you, you are secure. I am secure, confident protected, no matter what I may face.

Notice also this amazing point…

The Good Shepherd Brings Satisfaction to Our Lives.

John 10:9 — I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

III. The Good Shepherd brings to our lives:  Satisfaction

See verse 9 again.

John 10:9 — I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

 Finding pasture is more than just being safe. Yes, this is one of the most fundamental needs in our lives. But finding pasture also means that we find satisfaction.

Are you satisfied in life?

There is a story of a rich businessman who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. “Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked.

“Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman.

“Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?’ the rich man asked.

“What would I do with them?”

“You could earn more money,” came the impatient reply, “and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me.”

The fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?”

“You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the rich businessman.

“What do you think I’m doing now?” the fisherman replied as he looked placidly out to sea.

So often, we miss the satisfaction that Good Shepherd brings us.

Notice the satisfaction in Psalm 23 that our Good Shepherd brings to our lives.

Psalm 23:5

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

  • A table – food provision to fullness
  • Oil – anointing oil
    • sheep – flies in the nose – irritants – oil was a repellant
    • This is the symbol of gladness
  • Cup overflows – this represents God’s abundance

Psalm 23:6

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

v.6 goodness and mercy — or — lovingkindness

hesed – good, loyal love goes with me all his life!

One writer says that the Good Shepherd has two good sheep dogs named Goodness and Mercy.

And they chase after us…they follow us…ALL the DAYS of OUR LIVES.  In other words, there is not a day that God’s goodness and God’s mercy is not present in our lives who have accepted the invitation of the Good Shepherd.

Are you satisfied?  Are you Flourishing? Do you see how God has richly blessed you in a relationship with the good shepherd?

Are you experiencing God’s abundant life, given to you by the Good Shepherd?

Do these words align with your life.

  • Contentment
  • Rest
  • Confidence
  • Refreshment
  • Gladness
  • Restoration
  • Abundance

If not, Let me ask you two questions:

  1.  Do you know the Good Shepherd? — have you ever given your life to Jesus, trusted him for your salvation, and entered into His salvation?
  2. If you have, and these terms don’t characterize your life, maybe you have turned to your own way.  Maybe you have left the flock and have turned your heart away from the good shepherd.
    1. Return to him!  Return to Him today!

Offer two prayers here:

  1. For salvation
  2. For flourishing — Lord help me know I am walking with you that I might flourish…help me know what next step I need to take.

Don’t lose sight of the Shepherd’s desire to lead you each and every day!