John Gunn - The Lamb - Parma, Ohio - 2007

Where is the lamb? Isaac asked his father this because he knew that sacrifice wasn't acceptable without the lamb. The lamb is the only thing that has ever been acceptable to God. Men identify with strong things. You will never see the lamb as a sports symbol; the bear or the lion, or an eagle but never a lamb. A lamb is meek, but it is the symbol and spirit of this kingdom.

Are we prepared to defend the lamb? God chose David to be king because David loved lambs. When we really understand the lamb, and love it, we'll be prepared to give our life for the lamb. Revelations 5:2, "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. … And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb." The lamb prevails in heaven, but it also prevails on earth. The spirit of the lamb prevails in every situation.

Jacob faced Esau with the lamb nature: humble, and with presents. He knew he had to face Esau to make peace but he never gave in to Esau. He overcame him by the lamb. Esau would have liked to have taken over Jacob and his family, but Jacob never let Esau touch the things that God had blessed him with.

Abigail faced a delicate situation when David came to destroy Nabal and her family. She brought presents to David, but that wasn't what turned David's head. It was Abigail falling down and taking the blame that wasn't hers, and pleading for the kingdom that turned David – she brought the lamb to the situation and saved the situation. To show the spirit of the lamb is not suddenly deciding to have it. Those presents she brought to David were prepared in previous days. Likely the bread was prepared that very day, the parched corn and dressed sheep were prepared in previous days, and the wine, raisins, and figs were prepared in previous years. It was a lifetime of prepared work.

When Nathan came to David after David had sinned with Bathsheba, Nathan used the story of a lamb because he knew David would understand, because David loved the lambs. There was a shepherd in Australia who went after one lone sheep. Another shepherd scoffing him asked him, "How much is that sheep worth?" Our shepherd replied, "$30-40." The other man said, "I'd never put my life in danger for some sheep for so little money." Our shepherd replied, "I didn't go for money. I would go for any sheep." David was a shepherd at heart and Nathan knew how to reach David's heart. How better can God reach us in our sin than through the lamb?

The spirit of the lamb will always prevail, but it won't always be understood. When Saul was pursuing David with the intent to kill him, David's men didn't understand when David let Saul go free. When the spies were sent to Jericho to spy out the land, Rahab's house was likely the last house they would have chosen to go to, but they were led of the Spirit to her home. The spirit of the lamb will follow the leading of the Spirit. Mary and Joseph would have faced a lot of misunderstanding but their situation was from God and God-led. We need to treat with respect what God has done in others.  David's attitude towards Saul was, "My Lord, the King." He treated Saul with respect and he always respected the work of the Lord. David never forgot that Saul was made king by the Lord.

When the army came seeking Jesus in the garden, Jesus said, "I am He." The soldiers fell back. The spirit of the lamb will always disarm the enemy. But how can we get more of it? Isaiah 7:15, "Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good." If we want more of the Spirit, we need to feed on what it loves. God gives us milk, but we are responsible to make butter ourselves. Butter speaks of the richness of God's blessings. Honey speaks of the sweetness of fellowship with God Himself. Psalms 19:9-10, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." What is more precious that gold? The Creator of gold. What is more precious than honey? The Creator of honey. David didn't speak of the wonders of creation but of the wonders of the Creator. He spoke of standing in awe at the Creator and knowing Him.

Malachi 3:12, "'And all nations shall call you blessed:for ye shall be a delightsome land,' saith the Lord of hosts." God said, "Ye shall be a delightsome land." What made them a delightsome land? Is it not because God had blessed them? It's easy to walk in a flat land. It takes a lot more effort to walk in a land of hills and valleys. In Egypt, they could irrigate because it was a flat land. They used their own strength. But in Israel, they had to rely on the rain, on heaven. They needed God's care. That's what makes us delightful: God's care. God gives, He cares but how do we respond to that care? Our thankfulness for His care makes the difference.

God likes to see us progress and go northward (forward). Deuteronomy 2:3, "Ye have compassed this mountain long enough. Turn you northward." Some mountains can be removed by faith, Jesus told us that. Some mountains we need to go around. Some can't be moved, and we have to leave them behind. You may have a problem and you go around and around it without solving anything. It's time to leave it behind and go on. When the Children of Israel left Egypt and came to the Red Sea, it only took one step of faith to open the way. God did the rest. A mountain was removed. When the women came to the graveside of Jesus after the crucifixion, they wondered, "Who will remove the stone?" – but they went anyway. A way was made. A mountain was removed. Hannah went around and around with her feelings and worries about not having a son. It wasn't until she left behind her mountain of worries that she could go forward. Then her peace wasn't disturbed at being misunderstood. Her countenance was changed when she gave without restrictions. Peace is NOT calm and tranquility. Peace is something no storm can disturb. It only causes ripples on the surface of true peace. Paul prayed three times for God to remove something that bothered him. God's answer was, "My grace is sufficient." Paul quit praying. There are many things in life that don't have answers. We simply need to go forward.

When Abraham's servant went to find a wife for Isaac, he had delight in Rebeccah because she ran to give water to his camels. She didn't know then that these were the very same camels that would carry her back to her bridegroom. It's the attitude that we give ourselves to God and to others that God delights in.

Ruth showed the spirit of the lamb when she told Naomi, "Wherever thou goest, I will go." Ruth gave herself. Her attitude of "wherever" made her a blessing. She became a blessing to the kingdom because of her attitude of service and her spirit of the lamb. We can never repay all that the Lord has done for us, but when we appreciate what He has done, He delights in us. What God delights in is the gathering of His people. It's not the size of the gathering, or the place they gather. A gathering is special because of the choices we make.

There are two meetings we read about that were special to God: Genesis 45:1-2, Joseph made himself known to his brethren here. He met with them two chapters previously in Genesis 43, but that meeting wasn't special like this meeting was special. Joseph refrained himself then. Here we read, "Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, 'Cause every man to go out from me.' And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren." It is always a special meeting when God can make himself known to us. Joseph desired this meeting for many years, but it was only when God led him, that this meeting took place. Joseph had never said anything bad about his brothers to Pharaoh. If he had said anything negative about how his brothers had treated him to Pharaoh, Pharaoh would never have let them come into the land. Instead, Pharaoh expected them to be men just like Joseph. This meeting was made possible only by Joseph's forgiveness and by the brother's repentance. Joseph wasn't being mean to his brothers when he questioned their honesty; he was trying to bring them to a conviction of their sin. He gave them time to repent in their hearts.

The other meeting is in Mark 16:9, this was the day of the resurrection. There was only one message that could take away the sorrow in the hearts of the disciples. In the previous meeting, only Joseph could have brought that meeting about. Here only Jesus could bring this meeting about. Only Jesus had the message that they needed that could take away their sorrow. It came about by women who had prepared before. Mary asked, "Where have they laid Him? I need to find Him." When Jesus spoke to Mary, she heard and respected the message. One quality of preparation is respect. We don't want to miss the message to our hearts by unbelief. Mary brought the message to the best men on earth and they missed the message because they didn't believe. God will speak by young and old alike.

It would be good for us to read I Corinthians 11 before every Sunday morning meeting. Verse 26-29 tells us about our responsibility of taking the bread and the wine. "Let a man examine himself." Discern the body of Christ. See our brethren as the body of Christ. Discern and remember the body of the brethren of Christ.

Jesus came to do the Father's will and only His will. Isaiah 53:8, "He was taken from prison and from judgment and who shall declare His generation?" How do we declare His generation? By wanting to do the Father's will and only His will is how we can declare His generation.

Every baby cries, every baby needs love. The body/the church needs love. The only hope of this world is the dying of self to manifest His love. God's Spirit working in us will declare His generation. When we die, the spirit of the lamb can be seen. There are beautiful cornfields that feed the natural appetite of this world, but the dying lamb is still what feeds the soul of this world. A lamb doesn't stay a lamb forever, but Jesus was a lamb from the beginning to the end; a lamb from Genesis to Revelations. There is only one time when Jesus was referred to as a sheep (Isaiah 53:7), "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth." Opened not His mouth shows the very nature of sheep. May we seek to have the spirit of the lamb.

**Not verbatim.