They say that in order to hear the call of the sea you have to have something of the sea in you. A thousand people may stand on the rock overlooking the harbor and watch the ships come and go and feel nothing in particular. But every so often there's a man who knows that he belongs on one of those ships. He hears the call of the sea within him, and so he goes.


Millions can admire the mountains from a distance as the evening sun plays on their glistening peaks. But every so often there's a person who hears the call of the mountain – who knows that he must do more than look. "Those mountains are home, I belong up there", and he leaves the glitter of the city behind and dwells on those mountains.


So the call of God goes out. But to hear that call something inside you has to vibrate with the sound of God's voice. Otherwise, you hear nothing.


What do you think Jesus was doing walking over the roads of Galilee and teaching in the synagogues – healing the sick in the temple?


He was putting out a call to His sheep.

He was saying, "Come, follow me into the Kingdom".


Most people soon brushed Him off as someone a bit strange. But there were always those who felt something stir inside them –


- something woke up within them,


- they heard the call, not just with their ears, but with their hearts, and were drawn to Him.


"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me."


Someone reading these words may still be on the run. You're busy with plans of your own – trying to build your life and find your happiness in the things of this world. But you have heard a Voice and you know that you belong to that Voice.


- You may try to ignore it.


- You may attempt to escape through your favorite obsession.


- You may run and keep running for a while. But you have heard Jesus calling you.


Something within you is pulling in His direction and you will have no peace until you're at his feet.


My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life. And they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.


My Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.


Not one of those disciples could pat himself on the back and say,


"I was smart. I recognized a winner when I saw it. I gave my life to Christ, and now I'm saved."


"I chose to follow Jesus."

They didn't choose Jesus, Jesus chose them!


They didn't recognize Jesus as a winner and climb on his band wagon. When they heard the voice of Jesus calling them, something deep within bore witness that this was their Shepherd. They belonged to Him! His path was the path they were made for – so they followed!


You didn't choose Jesus either – he chose you.

You didn't make a "decision for Christ" – you answered the Call of Him who has been your Shepherd since before the foundation of the world.


And Jesus didn't choose you because you were something special. Jesus chose you,

called you, drew you, delivered you, raised you from the dead, washed away your sin and filled you with the Spirit of God because, for reasons that you will never fathom, you are one of His sheep.


But understand well,


- you are not the only sheep,


- you are one sheep in the flock,


and Jesus loves each sheep in the flock just the way He loves you.


You have only one thing in common with these other sheep: JESUS.


If there is any other thing besides Jesus around which you fellowship – be careful!


You like baseball – all your Christian friends like baseball – you're the "baseball Christians". But what about those in the flock of Jesus who have no interest in baseball?


You speak English – your believing friends speak English. But what about those in the flock who speak Spanish, or French, or Swahili?


Your skin is white – all your friend's skin is white – you're the "white Christians". But what about those in the flock whose skin is black?


You believe in infant baptism – your friends believe in infant baptism. What about those who find no warrant for infant baptism in scripture?


If we let anything become a bond between us, other than Jesus, we cut ourselves off from those in the flock of the Lord who don't share that bond.


- If you let your denomination (Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic, etc.) become a bond,


- If you let whiteness or blackness, or age, or sex, or length of hair, or doctrine become a bond, you are dividing the flock of Christ.


In the beginning the disciples had one thing in common besides their love for Jesus: they were all Jewish. It had to be that way in the beginning because Israel was ordained by God to be the starting point for salva­tion for the world...(as well as its consummation point).


Jesus was a Jew. He was sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. He fulfilled the Law given to Moses. But notice carefully He was not announced as the "Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of Israel", but the "Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world".


Jesus never told the disciples "you are the salt of Israel". He said, "you are the salt of the earth", "you are the light of the world".


He never said,


"Go into all Israel and preach the gospel to every Jew."


He said,


"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Go make disciples of all nations."


"Begin at Jerusalem – indeed – but keep going. Go into Samaria, up into Greek-mingled Galilee, and on to the uttermost parts of the earth. I have other sheep who are not Jewish. I must bring them also and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock – one Shepherd."


This was a lesson they seemed to have difficulty learn­ing....that there were other sheep who were not Jews. That there was to be one flock – not two – not a Jewish flock and a Gentile flock – one flock.


The fact that Jewish blood flowed in their veins was no longer a legitimate bond between them. There was only one legitimate bond: Jesus. Anybody who belonged to Jesus was their brother.


So the Spirit of the Shepherd moved out beyond the con­fines of Israel calling these "other sheep" and they came. And there were those who said, "Wait a minute! Wait a minute! These people can't enter the Kingdom of God unless they get circumcised and become Jews".


Wherever that attitude prevailed, the Spirit of the Lord departed – those people dried up. Only where the "other sheep" were included completely and without reservations---simply because they belonged to Jesus---was there life.


Antioch soon became the center of awesome missionary outreach because in Antioch the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers, black believers and white be­lievers functioned in unity around the Cross of Jesus.

Then a few centuries went by, bringing tragic changes to the face of the Church.


Now the Gentiles had taken over and the Jews were out. Not only out, but despised and persecuted.


The blacks were seen less and less except in the Coptic Church in Africa.


The rich were sitting in the seats of honor. The poor took what was left.


A clergy group had come into existence that made the scribes of old Israel look like amateurs.


It could hardly be called the Church of Jesus Christ. It was a shell – a body without life or spirit.

But in places where the historians never thought to look, the Shepherd continued to call His sheep and they came and they gathered. And when the sheep submitted to Jesus and became truly one with those "other sheep" – who were not like themselves – there was life !


It looks as though we have come down to the final hours of the Church of Jesus Christ on this earth. And after 20 centuries of human ego dividing and tearing believers from each other and frustrating the love of God, the Spirit of Jesus is drawing His sheep together into the unity they must have before the Bride of Christ can meet her Bridegroom.


And as He draws His sheep together, Jesus is making clear that He will not tolerate false bonds of unity that split this kind from that kind, this race from that race, this generation from that generation.


I have other sheep which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one Shepherd.


It's happening down on the street level – down where the people really are – Jesus is doing it!

No revival on this earth is valid if it doesn't quickly draw into its blessings those "other sheep," whoever they are. If it goes on month after month, year after year, with this group but never reaches out and touches that group, it may have started out as a thing of God but it's ending as a thing of flesh.


If Jesus is really in the midst of our churches – if He is truly pouring out His Spirit upon us – you can be sure of this: He is going to draw into the new thing He is doing every conceivable kind of human being that can be found in the town where we live, – every language,

every race, every bent of mind, every perversion and sickness, every economic level, and He is going to say to these people, as He is saying to us right now,


"You are my sheep. My blood covers your sins. You belong to me."


Then He is going to say to us,


"Receive these newly-cleansed brothers and sisters into your hearts, and serve me in unity with them."


If we receive these other sheep into our hearts, the life of God among us will vastly increase. The Word of God will go forth from our assembly with phenomenal power.


But if we hesitate, if that old barrier of indifference comes up, if we allow other loyalties besides Jesus to turn us into two flocks...or five or ten, then the Spirit of God will leave us and go where He can find believers who are willing to be one flock around one Shepherd.


If we truly want the Spirit of God to remain with us and increase His gracious workings in our midst, we can have only one thing in common – only one: Jesus.


White bigotry must go. Black bitterness must go. National loyalty must go.

Youth, age, respectability, cynicism, self-pity – every secret sin – and all the other things that make us hold aloof with our special friends---must go.


Jesus is our Shepherd and He is infinitely more im­portant than any of these barriers to unity,

so get rid of them!


Ask the Lord to show you the things He sees as He looks into your heart, and start cleaning house.


And don't be trying to clean your brother's house – clean your house!


Get it right, friend, and do it now.


"Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God."