"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
Times of services:
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
Israel was being misled by her leaders. As shepherds of God’s flock, Israel’s prophets, priests and kings should have been faithfully feeding God’s sheep. Instead, they were making themselves fat at the expense of the sheep. They were feeding themselves. The sick were not restored to health. The lost were not searched for and saved. As a result, wicked people preyed upon, devoured and scattered God’s people. These shepherds ruled over God’s people with harshness and force. Consequently, God would harshly punish these impostors. They had abandoned their God-given work in order to satisfy themselves. The people were being consumed by sin and the shepherds did not try to save them. These shepherds would soon face the wrath of God. This sad, distressful situation is recorded in Ezekiel 34:1-10.
To remedy this problem God told them He would be their shepherd: “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep” (Ezek. 34:15, ASV). He would seek the lost and deliver them from danger. He would feed the hungry and give them rest in verdant pastures. He would restore the sick and give them a safe haven of rest. Their souls would be satisfied because, with God as their shepherd, justice would prevail (read Ezek. 34:11-16).
To accomplish this tremendous work of shepherding His people, God would appoint “one shepherd” over His sheep, “My servant David” (Ezek. 34:23-24). This is predictive of the Messiah, who would feed and lead God’s people, thus accomplishing God’s promised care. Jesus is the good shepherd who gave His life for the sheep, thereby giving eternal life to all who will hear His voice and follow Him (Jno. 10:11-16, 24-29).
With His shepherd over His sheep, God promised to shower His people with good fortune: “there shall be showers of blessing” (Ezek. 34:26). These blessings are obtained in Christ. Contemplate the predicted blessings mentioned in Ezekiel and their fulfillment in Christ, the good shepherd:
A covenant of peace: “I will make a covenant of peace with them” (Ezek. 34:25). God wants man to be at peace with Him. Sin introduces conflict and causes separation between man and God. God’s shepherd remedies the problem of sin: “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20; Jno. 10:15). The death of Jesus reconciles man to God by cleansing man’s sin (Heb. 9:11-15). Christ has made peace by His blood, and preaches peace to sinners (Eph. 2:14-18). By obeying His gospel, your sins will be cleansed (Acts 22:16). You will be at peace with God.
Fruitfulness: “I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase” (Ezek. 34:26-27). Not only is every spiritual blessing found in Christ; as we abide in Christ (live in His way of truth), we bear fruit unto God (Eph. 1:3; Jno. 15:4-5; Gal. 5:22-23). Spiritual fruit is the sweetest, most refreshing kind, for it sustains the soul. Living for Christ is without comparison in this world of sin. Are you sharing in the fruitfulness of salvation by following Christ?
Freedom from bondage: “…and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them” (Ezek. 34:27). Freedom from spiritual bondage is under view here. The good shepherd frees us from the bondage of sin and death (cf. Jno. 8:31-36; Heb. 2:14-15; Gal. 5:1). Freedom from sin occurs when one obeys the gospel from the heart (Rom. 6:17-18, 2-4). Has the Son of God freed you from the bondage of your sin (Jno. 8:36)? Only He can free you.
Safety and security from evil: “They shall be safe in their land…And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid” (Ezek. 34:27-28). Satan preys upon the souls of men (1 Pet. 5:8). With Christ as our shepherd we are safe from Satan’s devouring tactics when we listen to the shepherd’s voice and resist evil through faithfully following Him (1 Pet. 5:8-9; Jas. 4:7-8; Jno. 10: 2-5). Safety from sin is only found in Christ’s flock (Jno. 10:27-29).
Sustenance: “they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land” (Ezek. 34:29). Christ, the good shepherd, feeds us the bread of life (Jno. 6:48-58, 63). God knows our needs, and in Christ He supplies them all (Phil. 4:19). He has prepared for us a table from which to feast (Psa. 23:5). Come and eat this bread; come and take the water of life freely (Rev. 22:17; cf. Jno. 6:35, 51).
Fellowship with God: “Thus they shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord GOD.’” (Ezek. 34:30). Oh, what blessed assurance! God is with the Christian (2 Cor. 6:16-18).
now is, “Are you with God?” “You are My flock, the flock of My pasture;
you are men, and I am your God,” says the Lord GOD (Ezek. 34:31). Obey
the gospel of Jesus Christ and live in His showers of blessing.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:28-32
1. Regrets can be good or
bad, depending on how we use them:
I. WE OUGHT TO REGRET:
A. Our Past
Sins – 1 Cor. 15:9; Matt. 27:3-5; Acts 9:9, 11; Lk. 22:31-32, 62; Acts
II. SOME THINGS YOU WILL NEVER REGRET:
A. Urging a
Sinner to Repent – 2 Cor. 7:6-9.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Ignorance in the Church
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 1:20-33
1. NT repeatedly warns against
ignorance (1 Ths. 4:13; 2 Pet. 3:8; et al.).
I. WHAT IGNORANCE HAS DONE:
A. Israel was
Punished with Captivity – Isa. 5:13; Hos. 4:6; Jer. 4:22.
II. WHAT IGNORANCE IS CAUSING:
the Church to Forget the Fundamentals of the Faith – 2 Pet. 1:12-15; Psa.
11:3; Heb. 6:1; 2 Pet. 1:8-9 (4).
III. WHAT IGNORANCE WILL CAUSE:
the Church to not Submit to the Will (authority) of Christ – Ro.10:3;
Fools hate knowledge; when refused, destruction surely comes – Prv. 1:7,
"Nobody" is Somebody
A court in the Italian city of Trieste ruled in favor of a parking attendant who sued for slander when a driver told the attendant, “You are nobody!” The court ruled the phrase ‘you are nobody’ “means precisely ‘you are a nonentity’ and to state that a person is a nonentity is certainly offensive because it is damaging to the dignity of a person” (‘You Are Nobody!’ Is Slander, Reuters cited by Lycos News, 09July2004). We certainly are a long way from the playground of our youth when it was said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me!”
Of course, everybody is somebody, and nobody should slander anybody (Prov. 10:18; Psa. 15:3). Everyone is important to God, as evidenced by His love in giving His Son to die for the sins of the whole world (Jno. 3:16; Rom. 5:8). There is not a single person on the face of the earth whom God’s love does not reach. Neither should our love be withheld from anyone.
The dignity of life is under attack today. From abortion to euthanasia, the weakest and most vulnerable among us are exposed to being thought of as ‘nobody.’ Elimination, not protection, is the result of this devaluation of life. Such disrespect and evil will not go unseen or unpunished by the Giver and Sustainer of life (Acts 14:25, 30-31).
Finally, everybody is somebody in the kingdom of heaven. Every Christian has a place to fill, a task to accomplish, an ability to use to the glory of Christ and the enhancement of His kingdom (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:18-25; Eph. 3:21). Even the smallest acts of faith are valuable, observed and rewarded by our Father in heaven (Matt. 10:42).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA