David Jeremiah - Is He Past or Is He Present?
Jesus described himself in two little words that comprise three letters. Jesus says, "You wanna know me? Here's my name: I Am. I Am". This is an Old Testament title for God, and it finds its history in Exodus chapters 3 and 4. You remember how Moses was on the back side of the desert, tending the sheep for his father-in-law? And one day, when he was out in the wilderness, he looked over on the horizon, and he saw a bush that was on fire, and as he drew near to the bush, he was filled with curiosity because, while the bush was burning, it wasn't burning up. It was not being consumed. And as he got near to the bush, he heard the words of the Lord God. The Lord was in the burning bush. And the Lord was using this, a moment, to try to recruit Moses for a particularly important job. The children of Israel had been in bondage to the Egyptians for 400 years, and it was time for them to be released, and God needed an agent to go to Egypt and speak to Pharaoh about letting his people go.
I've always been intrigued by the little interchange that goes on in that passage because here's God asking Moses to do something, and here's Moses giving God every excuse he can think of as to why he's the wrong person. And the reason that I enjoy that is because I watch it happen almost every week in my ministry. "What do you mean? I can't do that". Well, God had this conversation with Moses, and, finally, Moses is kind of down to his last strategy. He says this to God. "He says, 'Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and I say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you", and they say to me, "What is his name"? What shall I say to them?' And God said to Moses, 'Say to them, "I Am who I Am". Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I Am has sent me to you".'"
Now, that title, "I Am", speaks of the self-existence of Jesus. It speaks to the fact that he is the ever-present one. His name is not I Was. His name is I Am. His name is not I will be. His name is I Am. As we've already learned in this series, the Lord Jesus lives now in the eternal present. In many respects, there is no past or future for Jesus. Everything is in the present. He doesn't live in time. He lives outside of time, and so it is true of the Lord Jesus to say that his name is I Am. He assumed this name for himself. In fact, on one occasion in the New Testament, he got himself in trouble with this name.
In John 8:58, he said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am". Now, they don't know any theology, know this is Jesus, and he's a famous person, but they do know Abraham, and they know that Abraham's been dead and gone for a lot of years; and here's Jesus saying, "Before Abraham was, I Am". In other words, Jesus is claiming to predate Abraham. Jesus is claiming to be a person unlike any other person has ever been. He is the incomparable Christ, and one of the challenges you have when you teach on the life of Christ is how do you help people to know Christ? Because in order to learn something, we have to have something we already know from which to start the process, and there are no precedents for Jesus.
There's never been anybody like him, nor will there ever be. There's no one to whom you can compare him, so Almighty God, in his wisdom and through his Word, has given us a number of metaphors to help us understand who Jesus is. and those metaphors are in the Gospel of John. It was written to prove that Jesus is God, and these seven "I Am" statements kind of go along with the seven sign miracles that are in John's Gospel, and these statements are given to us to help us understand about Jesus. They're pictures of Jesus, and we're gonna go through them quickly. When we get done, we will have added to our understanding of who Jesus is and why he came.
First of all, in the sixth chapter of John, Jesus said, "I am the bread of life". Interestingly enough, this statement comes in the midst of the context of the feeding of the 5,000. It is in the context of that story when that little boy brought his lunch to Jesus, and Jesus somehow miraculously broke up that lunch so that it fed 5,000 men, and we've already talked about this in the past: at least 15,000 people ate lunch that day because of the miracle of the bread which Jesus multiplied. In the midst of that whole story, when Jesus did that, those who watched thought they had finally found the gravy train. This guy can do lunch in a moment. Nobody has to cook it, prepare it, deliver it. He just does it.
And in the back of their mind was the story in the Old Testament where the children of Israel lived off manna from heaven every day. Remember that? Every day, they would walk outside of their tent while they were in the wilderness, and here was their lunch, and it was called manna. And I've always loved to tell our friends that "manna" is a word that means, "What is it"? Every morning, they had some "What is it"? and it sustained them through the day.
Now, watch this, the people who heard Jesus that day say, "I'm the bread of life", they have these two thoughts in mind. They think that Jesus is the new Moses who has come to provide manna for them every day, and that he's going to be the miracle worker, bread line, for them. So, Jesus goes back to the synagogue, and he straightens them out, and this is what he said. He said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world".
It wasn't Moses who gave them bread from heaven, Jesus explained, it was God; and that manna that they got didn't last very long. Remember, it had a one-day capacity except for the weekends, and then it was two. Every day, that manna was gathered; and if they didn't gather the manna, it spoiled and it was uneatable. Jesus came, and he is far greater. He is the eternal bread of God. There are no limitations on the Bread of Life, who is Jesus Christ. And Jesus got done explaining that, and I love the humor of the Bible.
And the people, they're still living in the physical realm. They're not getting the message, and they say to Jesus, "Lord, give us this bread always. So, when do we show up tomorrow, Lord"? They didn't understand. He wasn't talking about physical bread. He was talking about the spiritual bread, and he was claiming to be that bread. In John 6:35 he said, "I am the bread of life. And he who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst". As the Bread of Life, Jesus is to our spiritual being what physical bread is to our physical being.
Max Lucado helps us with that when he writes, "What bread is for hunger, Jesus claims to be for the soul. Travel to almost any country and sit in any restaurant, and they will serve you bread". "It may be in the form of a tortilla in Mexico or a bagel in New York, but bread is available everywhere in the world, and so is Christ".
"Bread is eaten daily. Some fruits and vegetables are available only in season, not so with bread, and not so Jesus. He should be brought to our table every day. We should let him nourish our hearts, and just in certain months or special occasions is not for Jesus. Jesus is for every day. Jesus is daily. And bread is served in many forms. It is toasted and jellied and buttered and flattened and grilled. It can be a sandwich, a sweet roll, a hot dog bun, a croissant, a dinner roll. Bread can meet many needs, and so can Jesus". "He has a word for the lonely as well as for the popular. He has help for the physically ill and the emotionally ill". "Jesus can meet every need".
So now you can see why Jesus called himself the Bread of Life. He is the core sustenance for your spiritual being. Jesus is your bread. And in the genius of John's unfolding Gospel, the one who said, "I am the bread of life", next says, "I am the light of the world". And, once again, there is a story. You remember the story of the woman who was taken in adultery? And the Pharisees go and get the woman and bring her to Jesus. The Bible says they did it because they wanted to see what Jesus would do. In other words, they were testing him. They wanted to hear what he would say, and the Bible says he didn't say anything. He stooped down, and he wrote in the dirt on the ground, and the Bible doesn't tell us what he wrote. Doesn't that just frustrate you to death?
Billy Graham said, "I think Jesus wrote the Ten Commandments". I think that's a pretty good idea. He wrote the Ten Commandments in the dirt. And Billy Graham's not the Bible, but Billy Graham's pretty close. So he said, "He wrote the commandments in the dirt". And then Jesus stepped back, and he said to all of them, "Let those of you who have no sin throw the first stone at this woman". And, in my mind, I can see this picture. I don't know how many there were, but the Bible says, "One by one, they peeled off from the crowd and walked away". Maybe they stood there and were replaying the Ten Commandments in their mind. "I'm okay with this one. I'm okay... oops". And they leave.
Now, it's interesting that when that's all done, Jesus says to everyone, "I am the light of the world". "I am the light of the world". Why would he say that? He says, "I am the light of the world. And he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life". He had just told this woman, "Go and sin no more". And now he says, "Let me tell you how you can stay out of the darkness. I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't get caught in the darkness". The next chapter, he said it again, and that's the chapter where you have the story of the boy born blind, never had seen any light at all in his life. And Jesus said, "As long as I am in the world", he said, "I am the light of the world".
And there is one other person that Jesus says is the light of the world. You may be surprised at this. You may not know this about Jesus. There is somebody else beside Jesus who is the light of the world. Here it is. Matthew 5:14 through 16. "You are the light of the world". I am the light of the world? You are the light of the world. Jesus said, "A city that is on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven". Every year on Christmas Eve, we have this big light ceremony, and I always think of this verse where it says, "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden".
If we held that service outdoors and all of us lit our candles and held them up high as we do that night, you would be able to see this for a long way. But the purpose of it's not the physical light, but the purpose is that God wants us to be spiritual light to a dark world, and he says, "As I am in this world, I am the light, but I'm goin' back to heaven, and now you are the light". And probably some of you are saying, "I don't feel like a light. In fact, there's a lot of darkness in my life, Pastor". Jesus is still the light. He's the sun. We're the moon. We can't generate light. We can just reflect it. We have no light in ourselves. We can't just push a button that says "brighter". We are reflectors.
I had a bike when I was growing up and probably you all had bikes like this. My bike had a little headlight on the front of it, but right underneath the seat in the back was a reflector. That was there so if anybody was gaining ground on me and they didn't see me, their light would shine on my reflector, and they'd go the other way. Now, if I took that bike on a mud ride and the reflector got all dirty, it was useless, so here's the lesson from the light of the world. We are reflectors, and the only way we can shine brighter is by keeping our reflector clean.
God wants clean reflectors, and the way you do that he's given you some product to keep your reflector clean. It's called the Word of God. The Bible is the cleansing agent that keeps us clean. When we study the Scripture, when we read the Bible, that's what God uses to help us stay clean. So if you're not in the Bible if if you don't regularly go to a church where the Bible is the subject, your reflector's probably not as clean as it should be. And my desire, I hope it's your desire too, is to be the brightest reflector I can be for God, to make the best, influential impact on our culture as I can make.
And the Bible says when we do that, they won't glorify us. The Bible says, "Let your light so shine that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven". When they see the light coming from my reflector, they will say, "What a great light is shining on David Jeremiah, the great glory of God". Jesus said, "I am the bread of life, and I am the light of the world". Here's his third statement: "I am the door". Here's what he said in John 10. "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly".
Now, to get this in your mind and never to forget it and see the picture that was meant to be created for us, I have to tell you a little bit about what it was like to be a shepherd in Jesus's day. At night, when the shepherd would gather the sheep, they put them in a sheep pen. The sheep pen was created practically. It was movable, and it would be up to a height high enough so that a sheep couldn't jump over it. And usually, when we see pictures of that in magazines or dictionaries, it shows a hanging door on one side of this opening, usually made out of rope or something.
And so, the picture is when all the sheep are in, the door swings closed, and the sheep are enclosed, and they're safe for the night. But Jesus said, "I am the door". What do you do with that? Well, you go back and you study the history of it, and here's what you find out. There were no doors on a sheepfold. All that swinging-door stuff, that's Western. We created that. A shepherd never saw anything like that in his life, because what the shepherd did was this: he would gather the sheep into the fold at night. He would know every one of them.
In fact, we're gonna find out in a few moments he even had names for his sheep, and after all the sheep were in the fold, the shepherd would go over to the opening space where they came in, and he would lay down in that space, and there he would sleep that night. He would have his crook and his shepherd's bar with him, and no sheep could get out of the fold unless he crawled over the lightly sleeping shepherd, and no one could get into the fold to hurt the sheep because the shepherd was the door. When Jesus said, "I am the door", what he means is, "Just as the shepherd was the door of the sheepfold, I am the door. By me, you have to enter in".
There's always this argument: "If a person gets saved, can they get unsaved? If a person gets saved, and they're promised to heaven, is it possible they won't get to heaven"? I'm not gonna answer that question today in reality, but here's what I'm gonna say: if you're one of the sheep that belongs to Jesus, you have to climb over his body to get in and you'd have to climb over his body to get out, and that's not very likely, is it? You belong to him. He knows your name. He's the door to the sheepfold. And it says, "Thieves and robbers, they try to come in over the walls, but you can't get in over the walls. You can only get in through the door", and Jesus said, "Hey, I'm the door. No one comes into the fold except through me".
Now, this is very similar to the next I Am. Jesus next says, "I am the good shepherd". You know that if you go to Israel and you see the places where people are buried or places where they have recovered the culture of Jesus's day, what you will discover is that the favorite Christian figure in all of these catacombs is the figure of a shepherd. He is in the bloom of his youth. He has a crook or a shepherd's pipe in his hand. Sometimes he is attended by one sheep only, other times, by two. Usually in the picture there are several sheep at his feet in various attitudes. It was a shepherd to whom these early Christians loved to paint on the walls of their chapels.
Now, let me tell you something that's really interesting. Jesus never referred to himself as a priest. He never referred to himself as a preacher. He never called himself a clergy man. He never said he was a bishop. He never said he was an elder, but, oh, how he loved to call himself the shepherd. Jesus is the shepherd. He said, "I am the good shepherd".
Let me tell you three things about a shepherd that the Bible teaches about Jesus. First of all, the Good Shepherd loves his sheep. We've been talking a lot about this at our house, and I know you understand. I've never been all that much for having an animal. My wife's had two cats for as long as I can remember. That may be one of the reasons, I don't know. But as you know, we have a puppy, and I didn't know you could love an animal like we love that puppy. I mean, I love that dog like he was one of my kids. I take him everywhere I go, if I can.
I took him to the bank the other day. He sat up on the bank, and I did my stuff, and people look at me like, I think they think I'm just getting old. I think that's what they think. But I love that puppy, and I call him by name. And when I leave the house, he cries. When I come back, he gets all excited. He's my friend, and I think that the shepherds of those early days had that kinda relationship with their sheep. We have some evidence that they gave their sheep names, and they called their sheep by name. And when they would come back into the fold at night, they knew every one of them. They counted them, they made sure all of them got in.
You know the story about the shepherd that had a hundred sheep and one of 'em was lost, and he left the 99, and he went to find the 1? That's the image of a shepherd. The sheep are the only animal I know that are totally helpless without a shepherd. I've been to ministerial conferences where they speak on the shepherd and the sheep, and they love to go into detail about how sheep are the dumbest animals on the face of the earth. And then, they say really nice things about their congregation. I don't get it, but that's what they do. Well, I'm not going down that road, but I wanna tell you this: we're sheep, and we're as helpless in our own walk in the Christian world as sheep are without a shepherd.
Ladies and gentlemen, we need a shepherd, and we need a shepherd who calls us by name. We need a shepherd who knows us. We need a shepherd who makes sure that we get in the fold before darkness and protects us and keeps evil beasts away from us. We need a shepherd. That's why we love Psalm 23. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want". Did you ever read the part that says, "He leads me beside still waters"? Why does he do that? 'Cause I don't have enough sense to go there myself. I'm a sheep. I am a shepherd, but I'm also a sheep. The Good Shepherd loves his sheep, and the Good Shepherd leads his sheep. Have you ever had times like this?
I was thinkin' about this the other day. You know, when we get in our car, I have a GPS on my phone, Donna's got one on her phone, and we got one in the car. And we sort of looked at each other: "Which GPS should we use"? Sometimes we turn the one on in the car, and we turned on the one on the phone, and they don't agree. When it comes to directions, you all know I'm hopeless. Sometimes life feels, to me, like I'm looking at a map, and someone took the names of all the roads and all the streets and all the places off the map, and it's just a bunch of lines, and I have no idea where I'm goin' or what I'm supposed to do. I've probably said this to the Lord more in recent years than ever in my early life, "Lord, I don't know what to do, but my eyes are on you".
How many of you know when you don't know what to do and you don't have a map that makes any sense you got to stay close to the Shepherd? People always ask me, "Dr. Jeremiah, how can I know the will of God"? And what they want me to do is to give them some formula that they can go A, B, C, D, and E. When they get all the spaces filled in, they know they're supposed to be a doctor and not a lawyer, but the Bible isn't like that. And though I have heard many constructs and many sermons about how to know the will of God, I'd just kinda like you to put 'em all at the side and remember one simple thing: the way you know the will of God is you stay close to the leader, who is your Shepherd.
You stay close to the Shepherd, who has the way all mapped out, and as long as you stay close to him, you will always be in the will of God. I don't think the will of God is a place or a position. The will of God is a process. It's a process of walking with the Shepherd, and the best way to know that is to stay close to him. Here's a couple of verses that I wanted to give you today. Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will guide you with my eye". Isaiah 30:21, "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the right way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left".
And you know, ladies and gentlemen, I've had that experience. When I didn't know what to do, I've just said, "Lord God, I don't know what to do, but my eyes are on you", and in very short time, God has told me what the next step looked like. The Lord is our shepherd. He loves us and he leads us, but here is the most important thing about this Shepherd: he lays down his life for us. The Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. You know, in studying the Bible, one of the things you learn pretty quickly, if you're a student of the Bible, is if the Bible says the same thing a whole bunch of times in a short passage, it's usually pretty important. I mean, this is called emphasis.
The Bible probably didn't have highlighters. Writers of the Bible didn't underline things, but here's what happened. If they wanted to make a point, they made the point by saying it over and over again, so let me just direct your attention to the tenth chapter of John, and I wanna read four verses that are in a very short span. See if you can't pick up what the writer of this text wants us to know. "The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep". John 10:15, "I lay down my life for the sheep". John 10:17, "I lay down my life that I may take it again". John 10:18, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again".
So here is the question: Who killed Jesus? Was it the Romans? Was it the Jews? Was it us with our sins? In some way, all of those are true, but the Scripture says no one took Jesus's life from him. He laid it down on his own. Our Lord's death was voluntary. He spoke of laying it down and taking it back up. No one took his life from him, for no one had the authority or the power to do so. The Good Shepherd, the Son of God, voluntarily, willingly, of his own volition, out of love laid down his life for you and for me.
At the conclusion of the Second World War, as the troops were returning to America, a mother went down to the port to meet her son who was coming home from the battle. She had not been prepared for the extent of his wounds. He was the ultimate wounded warrior. And as the boys came down the gangplanks and were brought down in wheelchairs, she looked all over for her own son, and finally she saw him; and as soon as she could, she worked her way through the crowd to the boy, and she said, "Son, look up at your mother. Look up at me". And the boy said, "I can't do that, Mother. My eyes are gone". She staggered for a moment, and then she said, "Then, Son, just stand up and greet your old mother", and he said, "I cannot, Mother. My legs are gone too".
As the awfulness of the war's cruelty settled in upon this dear woman, she knelt near to the wounded boy's body, and she whispered, "Then, Son, just put your arms around your mother's neck and give her a hug". And he said, "Mother, I cannot. My arms are gone too". And the devastated woman began to sob, and she cried out, "This terrible and cruel war. You've lost your eyes, you've lost your legs, you've lost your arms". And the boy raised himself up the best he could to the full height of the wheelchair, and he said, "Oh, no, Mother, don't say that. Lost them? No, no, no, Mother, I didn't lose them. I gave them for my country".
And the point is, Jesus did not lose his life. He gave it. He gave his life on behalf of you and me. He voluntarily laid down his life for us in order that we might have eternal and abundant life. He is the good shepherd, and the Bible says because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. He is the good shepherd. He's the bread of life, he's the light of the world, he's the door, he's the good shepherd, and the Bible says he is also the resurrection and the life.
In John chapter 11, where the statement appears, Jesus has been called to what he thought at first was the bedside of Lazarus, and then to the graveside of Lazarus. Martha was really upset with Jesus, and she said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn't have died. But even now I know whatever you ask of God, he will give you". And Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe that"?
And the Jewish people of our Lord's day did not believe, many of them, in the Resurrection. There was a whole group of 'em called the Sadducees. They didn't even believe the Resurrection existed. And here is Jesus saying to this woman, "I am the resurrection and the life". And, of course, in a few moments he's gonna prove it. He calls Lazarus out of the tomb. The Bible is so clear about this part of what Jesus does. Jesus is not just the I Am for now. He's the I Am for the future.
You say, "Well, Pastor Jeremiah, how's he gonna resurrect us? I mean, it seems like everybody's gettin' cremated now, and they take their ashes out to the ocean, and they scatter them all over the ocean, and Jesus is gonna resurrect us"? Let me just say to you, the same Jesus who put 'em together the first time can get 'em together the second time. I don't worry about that.
The Bible says that one day when Jesus comes back, if we've passed on and our bodies are dead, but we're still alive, and the Bible says Jesus is gonna bring us with him, bring the spirits and souls of those who have died with him. And when the trumpet sounds and the voice of the archangel is heard, those either collected or scattered remnants of our old body will be reconstituted into a like-sized body as unto the Lord Jesus. In other words, when Jesus comes back to receive us to himself, if we have died and we're in our grave, we're gonna be raised up; and in that resurrection process, we are gonna get a whole new body. We're gonna get an extreme makeover on our way to heaven.
You say, "How do you know that"? Listen to this, listen to these words from Philippians. "The Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body". Amen. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Now, what does that mean to you? What it means to me is though I don't wanna die, I'm not afraid to die, because more than anything else that I know in all the world, I know that when I die that's not the end. God has a wonderful plan for your life and mine that goes past the grave and ends up in eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ himself.
So, "I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. I am the door. I am the good shepherd. I am the way, the truth, and the life". That's the next one. This is the most offensive thing Jesus ever said when he was on this earth. Are you ready for it? Here's what he said. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father except through me". Try that on at your next office party and see what happens.
One of the biggest issues today is that you cannot be exclusive with the gospel, and you hear things like, "Don't all roads lead to heaven"? No, that's a bad trip. You don't wanna go on that trip. "Isn't everyone's faith just a matter of sincerity"? No. How many of you know you can be sincerely wrong? I am directionally challenged, and I am a living illustration that you can be directionally seriously wrong, and we have such trouble with this idea that Almighty God would say to us through his Word. Here's the way to come to God, and there's only one way.
And I remember one summer, we had a summer Bible conference speaker, I just thought of it this week, and he got up, and he said somethin' I never forgot. He said, "Listen, just as you can only be born physically one way, don't be surprised you can only be born spiritually one way". Then he went into details we didn't need about how you get born physically. Wasn't it totally uncharacteristically exclusive of God to make being born the same for everybody who gets born physically? And the Bible says, in order to get to heaven, you have to be born again.
So how do you get born again? There's only one way. Just like there's only one way to be born the first time, there's only one way to be born the second time. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no man comes to the Father except through me". And you could go home and say, "Well, I didn't like that sermon, Pastor. I didn't think that was very nice. I don't think you should say those kinda things. You know, you could get in trouble for saying that". Well, bring on the trouble, because I'm here to tell you that if a man claims to be a representative of God and gives you any other message, he's not helping you. He's damning you to an eternity without God. He's telling you there's a way you can get to heaven, and that way isn't there. It isn't a Baptist way. It isn't a Presbyterian way. It isn't a Methodist way. It's not a Charismatic way. It's God's way.
God said you can get to heaven, here's how you do it: through Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ said that in John 14:1 through 6. This is one of his great I Ams. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father except through me". Finally, he said, "I am the vine and that you are the branches". And he said, "You have to stay connected to me if you're gonna bear fruit". Jesus is the vine, we're the branches, and he says, "If you wanna be fruitful as a Christian, stay plugged into the vine".
This whole passage in John 15 is really a wonderful thing to study. It says that if you're connected to the vine, you'll have some fruit. If you stay connected and really work it and make sure that you stay connected to the vine, you'll have more fruit. And, finally, at the end it says you can have much fruit. You can have some fruit, you can have more fruit, or you can have much fruit. Everybody who's a Christian has some fruit in their life, or they're not a Christian.
And here's the secret: the closer you stay to the vine, the more fruitful you will be. And I've learned through many illustrations in my life that the way the Lord manages that for all of us, 'cause most of us don't have the discipline to keep things out of our lives that suck up the juice of God, he prunes us, doesn't he? The Bible says the heavenly Father, who's the gardener, he prunes you.
Here's what I've learned, and this is what I want you to take home with you. You are never closer to the vine and to the Father than you are when you are being pruned. You will never sense the presence of the Lord and his love for you more than when he reaches down and begins to do that work in your life, and he says, "No, this is a leafy branch, and it's sucking you dry. You need to get that out of your life, because I have plans for you, and my plans are that you will prosper here and prosper here. And if you do all of these other things, you can't prosper in the things I want you to prosper in".
So, there you have it, seven statements about Jesus, but I'm here to tell you, men and women, this Jesus I've been talking about, he's the real deal. Is he the bread of your life? Is he the light of your world? Is he the door? Is he your shepherd? Is he your way, your truth, and your life? Is he the vine for you? He can be if you just put your trust in him. Starts at a decision, at a moment in time when you say, "Okay, Lord. Here I am. This is my life. Move in and take over". And he will.