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|Posted on October 22, 2016 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
Session 9 - 1 Peter 5:1-4 – Alert Living – Day 1
1 Peter 5:1 (HCSB) Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: 2 Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Peter now exhorts the elders/pastors who are shepherding the persecuted believers. However, his words still apply to those who lead Jesus’ flocks today. Peter’s fellow elders would respect his authority as an apostle and eye-witness not only to Jesus’ suffering but to His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. What is involved in “shepherding” a body of believers? Protecting, nurturing, teaching, admonishing, encouraging, and exhorting believers all fall under the job description of the pastor. They should not serve out of duty or obligation but should minister from a place of passion, compassion, and vitality. Do the shepherds follow their own instincts and serve in their own power? No, they seek God’s design and purpose, His fulfillment for their lives and for the good of their flocks. They serve in the power provided by the Holy Spirit. The workman is worthy of his hire, but the motivation to serve as pastor should not be financial gain.
Matthew 10:9-10 (CJB) Don’t take money in your belts, no gold, no silver, no copper; 10 and for the trip don’t take a pack, an extra shirt, shoes or a walking stick — a worker should be given what he needs.
The pastor/elder is not to be a dictator. He is to be a servant-leader.
Matthew 20:25-27 (NASB) But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;
Pastors cannot be expected to be completely perfect any more than the rest of us, but they should live in such a way that their church members want to emulate them. Sheep are basically followers, so the shepherd has a responsibility to lead them in the right direction. The pastor should be someone the congregation can safely follow because he is following after Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Pastoring according to Peter’s instructions is not easy. It takes a humble but hard-working person. However, if God has called a person to be a shepherd, He will reward that servant. The faithful pastor will receive an eternal crown, never fading.
John MacArthur Study Bible:
The Greek word for “not fade away” is the name of a flower, the amaranth. (pictured below)
Challenge: If you are a leader in the church, pray for wisdom in guiding the flock entrusted to you and power to exemplify Christ-like behavior. If you are not in a position of authority, pray daily for those who are!
|Posted on May 5, 2016 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
Eternal Security of the Believer
John 10:22 (ESV) At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.
The Feast of Dedication (today’s Hanukkah) was also called the Festival of Lights because of lamps and candles being lit in homes and the temple as a part of the celebration. It was observed to commemorate the rededication of the temple after it had been desecrated by the hideous, maniacal Syrian dictator Antiochus Epiphanes. It was celebrated around the time of our December 19th. The fact that it was winter would explain why Jesus was walking in the more sheltered area of the temple called Solomon’s Colonnade. After His ascension to Heaven, this became a favorite gathering place of the early Jerusalem church.
John 10:24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus had told them in a kaleidoscope of ways that He was the Son of God. What suspense? How many more analogies could He share? He had called Himself the Light of the World, the Bread of Life, the Door, and the Good Shepherd as well as the Son of Man, a term used in the Old Testament to mean the Messiah. He had said more than once that He was sent by the Father. The religious leaders were not interested in knowing Jesus’ true identity, essence, and nature. All they wanted Him to do was to back Himself into a corner by committing supposed blasphemy so they could justify attacking Him.
John 10:25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.
Jesus explained once again that the miracles were all they should need to know that He was sent by God. He told them they did not understand because they were not His. They had not been chosen by the Father to be a part of the flock. We are blind until the Holy Spirit opens our eyes. The Jewish leaders were incapable of perception. They refused to open their eyes to His light. These were the Jewish leaders, teachers of the Law, but they seemed to have no God compass or radar. Their legalism had hardened their hearts. Jesus had told them enough for them to understand that He was the Messiah, but they refused to believe.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Jesus knows His sheep even before they recognize Him. His own sheep would hear His voice and flock to it like moths to a flame. The Pharisees did not realize that His was the voice of God because they did not have the intimate relationship with God that they thought they did. Sheep can discern the voice of their shepherd among other people calling them. They know the distinct call and voice of their own shepherd and will not follow another. When we belong to Jesus, His Holy Spirit indwells us and enables us to distinguish His will from the many paths the world uses to entice us away from God’s way.
John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 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. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Jesus was given the authority to give His sheep eternal life. As the Good Shepherd, He is our protector and defender. We are secure. God the Father sovereignly hand-picked those who would be in Jesus’ and His forever flock, His family. God is almighty, all-powerful, and the final authority. No one can penetrate His iron grip to steal or harm those who belong to Him. No one can snatch me out of His grasp – NOT EVEN MYSELF. I could do nothing to earn my salvation, and therefore, I can do nothing to lose it. God and Jesus are hand in hand, both holding the believer securely. Jesus and the Father share the same essence, nature, and qualities because even though they are distinct in their roles, they are one God. That Trinity concept again. So hard to understand! They are One in their purpose and passion for their sheep, those they have chosen.
Q – Have you trusted Jesus to cleanse you from sin and take you to Heaven someday? If so, you can completely rest in the fact that He will not let go of you for any reason. He is your Protector, Provider, and Prince. Hallelujah!
|Posted on May 3, 2016 at 10:30 PM||comments (0)|
I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
This is the fourth of Jesus’ “I AM” statements in John. So far, He has said He is the Light, the Bread, the Door, and now the Good Shepherd. By recording these statements, John was showing us that Jesus is everything we need because He IS God. A shepherd risked his life to protect his sheep. Jesus was foreshadowing that He would lay down His life as the sacrifice and payment for our sins. He would not just risk His life but would willingly give it up for His sheep, those chosen by God to have relationship with Him.
John 10:12 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.
The hired hand has no investment in the sheep. He might lose pay if a sheep were lost, but he would not risk his life for someone else’s lamb. The Good Shepherd is fully invested in the lives of His sheep and would give His life to save them. The hired hand would not purposely hurt the sheep like the thief or predator, but he would abandon the sheep to those who would harm them.
John:1014 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.
Reformation Study Bible
10:14 I know my own and my own know me. This is placed in parallel with the intimacy between the Father and the Son (v. 15; cf. 17:21–23). It is clear that “know” here, as so often in Scripture, means more than a mental grasp; it includes personal understanding and a commitment of will. To say that God “knows” a person in this way refers to His gracious redemptive commitment to that individual.
The Good Shepherd has more than a mere intellectual knowledge about the sheep. He has a relationship in which emotions are invested. He knows each sheep intimately and enables the sheep to have intimate knowledge of Him. Jesus knows all the layers of the onion because He created the onion. As Jesus and the Father are one, He desires to be one with the sheep. We will cover this more completely in John chapter 17. This is more than a casual relationship; Jesus was committed to the sheep to the point of dying for them.
John 10:16 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.
The gospel is not exclusive to Israel. Jewish believers were not Jesus’ only sheep. Gentiles, those who are not Jews, would receive the good news as well, and many of them would be granted a relationship with the Lord. Otherwise, Susan and I would not be writing this blog since neither of us are Jewish!
John 10:17 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.”
The Father loved Jesus because He was willing to fulfill His will, being obedient even until death. He made the point that no one could take His life from Him. Instead He would be willingly giving it up, knowing He would be resurrected. As God, He has authority over life and death.
John 10:19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?”
The religious leaders were always saying Jesus had a demon. They didn’t know what else to say. It may have sounded pretty crazy to hear Him saying He could give His life and then take it up again. No MAN could come back to life after dying! They did not believe in the reality that Jesus was the Son of God, they did not see Him as the genuine article, the promised Messiah. And if He had claimed to be those things and in reality was not, that WOULD make Him crazy.
John 10:21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Others questioned the veracity of the Pharisees’ argument. How could someone who was demon possessed or crazy heal the blind man? God and the devil cannot live in the same vessel; so if Jesus were performing miraculous acts in the name of God, He could not possibly be demon possessed.
Q – Do you realize your need for a shepherd? Have you come to the conclusion that without Jesus to lead you, you are hopelessly lost in a downward spiral of sin? If so, stop fighting Him and surrender to His call. Then the Good Shepherd will lead you to good grazing ground in His word, and quench your thirst with Living Water.
|Posted on May 1, 2016 at 9:30 PM||comments (0)|
I Am the Good Shepherd
John 10:1 (ESV) “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.
The Pharisees were robbers. They chained the people to the Law rather than helping them to see that Jesus was the Messiah that would bring freedom. They fattened themselves while starving the people. If you want the backstory for these ideas read the entire thirty-fourth chapter of Ezekiel. We have included the first four verses here:
Ezekiel 34:1-4 (ESV) The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.
False teachers are not true shepherds. They try to steal the sheep to follow them and stroke their own egos rather than to follow and bring glory to the Lord.
John 10:2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
The gatekeeper only opens the gate for shepherds who have sheep in the pen he is guarding. The shepherd has a relationship with his particular sheep. They recognize his voice. The shepherd has names for his sheep. Our Shepherd knows my name and your name if you are one of His sheep. Even though we are the body of Christ collectively, we are each individually His as well. The sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd and the special name he has for each one of them. This goes back to our being predestined, chosen by God, to be His sheep, those who are His children and heirs, who follow Him. Those of us who are His sheep will recognize His voice when He calls us out of all the sheep in the world. When He calls us out of the darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), we will recognize our Shepherd’s voice and follow Him.
Ezekiel 34:11 & 13a (ESV) “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out…And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land.
The prophet Ezekiel spoke partially about God regathering the Jews into Israel again. However, it also applies to the fact that our Shepherd WILL find us and bring us into His flock whether we are Jews or Gentiles. We will know His voice when He calls us out of the world and into His fold.
John 10:4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
When the Shepherd has called His flock out from among the masses, He does not leave them to find pasture for themselves. He leads them. They follow the sound of His voice in order to stay on the correct path and not wander off into danger. The Good Shepherd will enable us to stay on the path of divine purpose by the power of His Holy Spirit within us and the word He has preserved for us over the centuries, the Bible.
John 10:5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
The sheep will not follow just any old shepherd (or thief). A sheep, or in this analogy believers, will not follow anyone but the one who has rescued them, the Shepherd, the Protector, Jesus. The shepherd has trained his sheep to know him, and our Shepherd places the ability in us to discern His voice from the many noisy voices trying to lure us away. This harks back to the fact that we have an intimate relationship with our Shepherd. The shepherd does not just corral the sheep, put them in a pen, and walk away. The sheep mean everything to the shepherd. The shepherd would give his life for the sheep.
John 10:6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
The people heard this analogy, but did not understand that Jesus is the Shepherd. They were thinking, “Why is he telling us this story about sheep?” They did not understand Jesus’ role as nurturer and protector.
John 10:7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
All who came before Jesus claiming to be the Messiah were imposters. The sheep the Lord had chosen did not follow these pretenders. Jesus made another “I AM” statement when He described Himself as the door. The only way to be saved is to enter in by the Door, Jesus Christ. He is the only way to the Father which we will cover even more in John chapter 14. Also, some sheepfolds, especially out in the pasture area, had no gate. The shepherd would lie across the entrance when he slept as the barrier between predators, animal or human, and his sheep. Jesus is the barrier between His sheep and the sinful world that would try to lure them out to destroy them. He is the door through which we enter, and is the door that keeps us safely inside His fold.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Satan’s agenda is to destroy people, but Jesus’ purpose is to make them passionately fulfilled. The shepherd makes sure his sheep find excellent pasture and clean drinking water and protects them from all who would harm them. Jesus is the Shepherd, the Door, the Bread of Life, and the Living Water. He provides all that His people need. Jesus is the force that sustains life!
Hebrews 1:3a (NIV) The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
Q – Is the gospel of Jesus Christ making sense to you for the first time? Perhaps the Shepherd is calling you out from the world to be a part of His flock. If you believe you are hearing His voice, surrender your life to Him, trust Him to be the Door to eternal life with the Father, and enter into the familyship of God.