23 “I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken. 25 “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.” (Ezekiel 34:23–25, NKJV)
This prophetic picture of Messianic peace is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His church. In John 10:11-16, Jesus identified Himself as the good shepherd who would give His life for the sheep. He knows His sheep and His own know Him, listening to His voice to lead them to sustenance and safety. Jesus is our peace – the One who gives us peace with God and peace among ourselves as “one flock” (Jno. 10:16). People yearn for earthly peace, and many think Ezekiel is writing of future peace in a millennial kingdom. But, the gospel of peace is the “covenant of peace” that currently gives “showers of blessings” in fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prediction (Ezek. 34:26). This prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the good shepherd. His sheep have peace with God and enjoy spiritual security by hearing and following the Shepherd’s voice. Be sure to hear and follow God’s shepherd each day.
14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:14–17, NKJV)
In prayer to His Father, Jesus said He had entrusted God’s word to the apostles as a shield and a sword against the world’s opposition. The “world” that hated Jesus and His apostles is the system or cosmos of evil, “the people constituting the world whose values, beliefs, and morals are in distinction and rebellion to God’s” (Bible Sense Lexicon, Logos Bible Software). The world continues to hate the followers of Jesus because we are not of this world. God’s word of truth exposes the world’s sin. Those who love sin instead of God will hate truth and those who follow it. The world remains under the sway of “evil one” (Satan, 1 Jno. 5:19). But, God’s truth has power to set us apart from the world. As so, we are of good cheer; Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Matthew 7:6, NKJV)
An unwillingness to make any moral and religious judgments puts a person at odds with Jesus. After warning against making hypocritical judgments in Matthew 7:1-5, He commands us to make several judgments. We must judge what is “holy” and are “pearls”, as well as who are “dogs” and “swine” (the two-legged kind). Then, we must judge when not to give holy things to the dogs and when not to cast pearls before swine. But, are these judgments left up to our personal assessment? No, because God’s word tells us about holy things and true valuables (cf. Matt. 13:44-46). He identifies the figurative dogs and swine for us (cf. Phil. 3:2). The Scriptures reveal God’s judgments. We shall test ourselves against His judgments conform our lives to His words. When evil people despise God’s truth we must judge when to “shake off the dust” from our feet and move to others who will hear and respect the gospel of Christ (Matt. 10:14-15). (Or, have you reached a point where you will not judge something and someone as evil?) “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9).
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1–5, NKJV)
We will all be judged by Jesus in the last day (2 Cor. 5:10). Therefore, this verse is not teaching us to avoid judgment by never rendering a judgment. Still, many attempt to use verse one to avoid the force of divine truth that calls their conduct into account. The context makes it abundantly clear Jesus is warning against hypocritical judging, not making a blanket condemnation of all forms of judgment. After all, Jesus would later command to “judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Did Jesus command us to sin? No, Jesus did not contradict Himself. The word of God is the revelation of God’s judgments. We let God be the judge by letting His word reprove and rebuke sin (2 Timothy 4:2). His judgments are true and altogether righteous (Psalm 19:9). The question is, will we accept God’s judgment when His word exposes our sin? Or, will we try to deflect personal accountability by saying, “You can’t judge me!” when someone teaches us the truth?
Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, and said, “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.” (Judges 13:8, NKJV)
A young family in the church was blessed last night with their first child – what a joyful event! The love and innocence of a newborn child reminds us of the wondrous love of God and His ever-present care for us. What an awesome task parents have to guide an immortal soul in the way of the Lord. If you are a parent, there is no greater counselor than the Lord to show you what to do for your child. Seek His help as parents through prayer and through the instruction of His word. With the Lord’s help, one day you can join John the apostle in saying, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4).
…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
Paul has just exhorted Christians to do three things to avoid being weighed down by anxiety (the distracting cares of this world): Be joyful, be gentle and be prayerful (Phil. 4:4-6). Now, he tell us the positive result of such a life of faith; God’s great peace standing as a garrison around your heart and mind, protecting your thoughts, feelings and perceptions from the onslaught of doubt and fear. Many yearn for inner peace, yet it eludes them, because they are at war with God (Jas. 4:1-4). For true and abiding peace, turn to God and the salvation that is in His Son, Jesus Christ. Then, because you are at peace with God, nothing can overwhelm you. You have His promise.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:4–6, NASB95)
Christians have the ability to live in joyful gladness under the most stressful situations. The character of gentle forbearance couples with remembering the Lord’s approaching judgment to form two reasons we live in joy instead of anxiety. The third strand of the three-fold cord of joy is prayer. The thankful requests of prayer strengthen our resolve to rejoice in the Lord because we know God hears and answers us. With a gentle spirit, generous prayers and respect for the Lord’s presence and power to judge, Christians refuse to abandon joy for anxiety, especially in the face of temporary trials. Though Paul was imprisoned in Rome for his faith, he set this example of always rejoicing in the Lord. Today, remember Christ rules from heaven and sees all things. Keep a gentle spirit toward others as you petition God with thanksgiving for His great and constant care. By doing so you can, and will, “rejoice in the Lord always”.
1 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; 2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3:1–2, NKJV)
Little is more heart-rending to a father than to watch his son (or daughter) abandon the guidance and instruction he gave him for his good. A father’s commands are not given so he can have control over his child. They are given in order to help him live righteously. A father’s law is expressed to his son, not to restrict his child, but to teach him the blessings come from making right choices. A father longs for his son to have peace, therefore, he desires that his son will obey him from the heart. How much more, then, must our heavenly Father yearn for our heart-based obedience. Do not break your Father’s heart. Follow His will from your heart. You will have blessings now and in the end, eternal life. (If you have forgotten His law, then return to the Father in full repentance. He loves you and will receive you with joy.)
4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4–5, NKJV)
Abiding in Christ day by day requires a deliberate faith that keeps the word of Christ. Jesus had just explained, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (Jno. 14:23). By an obedient faith you will have a fruitful relationship with Jesus, the “true vine” (Jno. 15:1). But, if you choose to disobey Christ you will not abide in Him. A faithless, fruitless life leads to eternal ruin: “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (Jno. 15:6). Having a relationship with Jesus means more than saying you have one; it means bearing the fruit of that relationship by your daily, obedient faith.
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:29–32, NKJV)
Many people believe it really does not matter what you believe about God as long as you are sincere. It is apparent from today’s verse that Jesus did not think this way. Why then, should we? If you wear His name (Christian), shouldn’t you think like He thinks and teach like He teaches? Jesus said the Sadducees (who said there was no resurrection, Matt. 22:23) were “mistaken” (“wrong”, ESV; “in error”, NIV) because they did not know the Scriptures nor God’s power. How could that be true if it didn’t matter what the Sadducees believed (as long as they were sincere)? You must know the Scriptures precisely because it does make a difference what you believe. Be sure what you believe is in God’s Scriptures by examining them every day (Acts 17:11). If it is not in the Scriptures, then abandon it and believe the truth. Because it matters.