Things That Are Lacking

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you–
(Titus 1:5)

Look at the various ways the phrase “put what remained into order” is translated:

“Set in order the things that are lacking” (NKJV)

“Set in order what remains” (NASU)

“Straighten out what was left unfinished” (NIV)

“Set in order the things that are wanting” (KJV)

“Amend what was defective” (RSV)

Considering these various phrases, we can see that Paul knew that something just wasn’t finished in the churches in Crete. There was something “defective, wanting, lacking, unfinished” in the churches.

What was lacking and unfinished? The churches were sheep without shepherds…they needed elders in every congregation. Without elders, the church is lacking, unfinished, defective, etc.

What is lacking when sheep are without shepherds?

  • Protection
  • Provision
  • Accountability
  • Direction

We should be able to see God’s wisdom in having men appointed as shepherds or elders to lead the local congregations. We are sheep, whether or not we like to admit it. Without a shepherd, I am in danger! When we have no shepherds, we wander and are in danger of being eaten by wolves!

God has designed His local congregations to have godly shepherds who will be after His heart (Jeremiah 3:15). These elders/shepherds are to think like God, to be on the same page as God. Because these elders think like God does, they can do for God’s sheep what God’s sheep need. We need direction, accountability, protection and provision.

Read Psalm 23 and John 10 and think about what shepherds do for sheep. This is what our elders in our congregations do for us. What a blessing! Thank God for godly elders!

Everybody Said, But Nobody Did

Here are the lyrics to a great song by Acappella called Everybody Said, But Nobody Did. If you want to listen to it, here is a link to it on YouTube.
Everybody said that anybody could do
The important things somebody should do
Everybody knows that anybody could do
All the good things that nobody did
Well the preacher came to me and said what I ought to do
If I wanted to make my religion true
He’d do it himself but he really didn’t have the time
He said that the duty was mine
Everybody said that anybody could do
The important things somebody should do
Everybody knows that anybody could do
All the good things that nobody did
Well the deacon came by and said give me a hand
If you want to be going to the promised land
Here is something that I don’t have time to do
So I better give it to you
Well I’m too busy so I tell everybody
The work’s got to get done by somebody
It can be done by anybody
But nobody (nobody), nobody (nobody), nobody did
Everybody said that anybody could do
The important things somebody should do
Everybody knows that anybody could do
All the good things that nobody did
All the good things that nobody did (x2)
This song is a simple reminder of how Christ put us all in a body, and we all have talents, gifts and functions in the body. But in order for the body to work, each part must do its share.

Laodicea: The Church Who Didn’t Need Jesus

Jesus was kicked out of His own church! The church at Laodicea was gathered together, but Jesus was on the outside knocking to get in His own church!

Studying the background of the city of Laodicea brings some valuable insights. I have a few links below of some resources I used to write this article.

Laodicea was known for:

  • Legendary wealth – When the city of Laodicea was destroyed by earthquakes, they did not accept or receive assistance from Rome to rebuild the city.
  • Self-sufficiency and independence – The city was named after the wife of Antiochus III, but the word itself is derived from two words: laos, meaning “people” and dike, meaning “decision” (Strong’s Concordance). This city made their own decisions. They didn’t accept Nero’s help to rebuild Rome, they were going to go it alone.
  • Lukewarm water – According to Expositor’s Bible Commentary, “A six-mile-long aqueduct brought Laodicea its supply of water from the south. The water came either from hot springs and was cooled to lukewarm or came from a cooler source and warmed up in the aqueduct on the way. For all its wealth, the city had poor water” (comments on Revelation 3:14-22).
  • Black wool – Laodicean black wool was world famous.
  • Eye salve – Laodicea had a famous school of medicine. They also were known for a special ointment known as ‘Phrygian powder,’ which was famous for its cure of eye defects. One of the most famous graduates of the medical school was a man who was very influential in the field of ophthalmology.

Considering all of that, listen to how Jesus addresses the congregation in Laodicea.

Revelation 3:14-22 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. (15) “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! (16) So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (17) For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (18) I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. (19) Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (21) The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. (22) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”

The church in Laodicea in Jesus’ eyes:

  • Wealthy, yet poor.
  • Clothed with designer clothes, yet naked.
  • Great vision, but blind.
  • Self-sufficient, but pitiable and wretched.
  • And just like the lukewarm water of the city, was their heart and character to Jesus. They made Jesus sick to His stomach.

What they needed:

  • Was to “buy” Jesus’ gold which is refined by His fire.
  • Get clothed in white garments from Jesus.
  • And get Jesus’ eye salve so that they could really see!
  • To be “zealous” (hot) to repent to Jesus.
  • To let Jesus in the door of His own church! Stop being self-sufficient.

So, here is food for thought – What does a church look like today that doesn’t need Jesus? If we were like a Laodicean church today what would that look and sound like? And if that was the case in our church, how do we turn things around? On a practical level, how does a church start putting eye salve on its eyes and buying gold from Jesus? What does it look like and sound like when a church starts letting Jesus back in the door?

Here is another contrast to add to yesterday’s article: Ephesus was in danger of Jesus leaving its fellowship, Jesus was trying very hard not to leave Ephesus. Laodicea had already kicked Jesus out and He was trying very hard to get back in!

Resources:

Laodicea – Life, Hope, and Truth Website

Laodicea on the Lycus

Padfield.com – The church at Laodicea in Asia Minor

The Seven Churches: Contrasts

At our congregation we are studying through Revelation and right now we are in the seven churches section of chapters 2 through 3. Last night we had a discussion about some of the contrasts that existed among the churches.

The Seven Churches: Contrasts

  • Ephesus could not tolerate the “deeds of the Nicolaitans,” while Pergamum was tolerating those who held this doctrine (Revelation 2:6,15).
  • Smyrna was poor, yet rich, and Laodicea was rich, yet poor (Revelation 2:9; 3:17).
  • Smyrna faced the tribulation from men because of doing what was right, and Thyatira would face the tribulation from Jesus because of doing what was wrong (Revelation 2:9-10,22).
  • Thyatira was patiently enduring, serving and working for Jesus, but they had love as well, even though they were tolerating false doctrine and immoral behavior. Ephesus was patiently, enduring, serving and working for Jesus, but they had left their first love. In Ephesus they did not tolerate false teachers and tested every teacher to see if what was spoken was the truth (Revelation ).

With those contrasts came a few observations about Jesus and the seven churches:

  • There are not several standards for different churches, there is one standard for all churches, and that comes from Jesus Christ.
  • Each congregation had issues, problems, and sometimes even sin to correct, but Jesus was lovingly giving them time to repent.
  • What makes a “sound church” is much more than standing on the right side of a few issues.
  • All was not lost for a church that was dead, or tolerating false doctrines. Jesus was standing at the door, knocking and waiting for them to open and come to repentance.
  • There were faithful brethren standing strong and pure in the midst of those congregations with all those problems. These faithful few were told to influence, hold fast and strengthen the church, not flee and go to another group.
  • Jesus, not you or me, decides when a church loses fellowship with Him.
  • Our hearts must be like the Lord’s heart. He is not as quick as humans to write people off.

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”
(Revelation 3:19-22)

Euodia and Syntyche, Part 3

Today is the final part of the series on Euodia and Syntyche. Here are the links for first two articles.

Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:1-4).

Help these women who labored with me in the gospel. Euodia and Syntyche were women of the best intentions, and they had servant hearts. The church at Philippi began with strong women (Acts 16:11-15). Of course, by the time of the writing of this epistle, Philippi had elders and deacons, but they still had strong women. These women aren’t to just fade away into inactivity because they now had elders and deacons. Paul tells the congregation to help these women in their work as they are fellowshipping in the gospel. Whatever these two sisters were doing, whatever work they were involved in, Paul tells the brothers and sisters to be an encouragement and support to them in their work for Christ.

The kingdom needs strong, servant-hearted women. Strong-minded is not to be confused with always going around giving people a piece of your mind. Nor does it mean being stubborn and unwilling to consider other viewpoints. However, we must not also confuse “meek and quiet” and “submissive” (1 Peter 3) with being a doormat that sits still and never uses the talents, voice and strengths God gave to the woman. This balance comes when we become “one mind” in Jesus. Our strengths, our talents are tempered and guided by the love and humility of Jesus.

God’s work, not mine. Paul’s letter to the Philippians often mentioned joy and rejoicing, but that is not what the letter to the Philippians is primarily about. He often used words like “mindset” and “mind” in this letter, but Paul was trying to get at more than the power of positive thinking.

If you go through this short letter, and underline or highlight all the times Paul says Lord, God, Jesus, Christ, or Savior then you will begin to understand the theme of Philippians. Why did Paul endure such cruel suffering and harsh treatment? Because it is all about Jesus (Philippians 1:21,29-30; 3:10). Why did Jesus leave heaven’s glory to die on the cross? Because it was God’s work and God’s glory that would be accomplished (Philippians 2:4-11). Why did Timothy put his own interests aside and sincerely care for the brethren? Because Timothy sought the things of the Lord Jesus, not his own things (Philippians 2:19-21). Why did Epaphroditus come close to death? Because he did everything “for the work of Christ…not regarding his own life” (Philippians 2:30). Why did Paul want to stay on earth and help Christians when he would much rather die and be with Jesus? Because he was all about serving Jesus and doing His work for His people (Philippians 1:19-26).

It is God’s work that He begun in the Philippian disciples, and it is God that continued to work in them and through them (Philippians 1:6; 2:13). Paul considered himself just an instrument in the hands of the Great Physician. Euodia and Syntyche needed to be reminded of this valuable principle. It is not our ministry, nor is it our church. The money isn’t ours. Those Bible classes are not our Bible classes. It is not our worship service. Those people being taught are not our people. It’s all about Jesus. This is His work. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).

My mother, Linda, shared with me some very simple yet powerful words as I began my first full-time preaching position in Columbus, Ohio. She said with tear-dimmed eyes, “Remember who your Master is.” How right she was. Once we fully grasp that, and once we as individual Christians own that concept, then we can begin to view ourselves as merely instruments and servants of the Master. We see the value in others walking along with us as partners, sharing in the work together, side by side. We stop looking for ways to get the credit for teaching someone or having the best ideas, and we look to lift up other brethren and point out their great worth and their ways of contributing to the family and body of Christ. We will listen to other ideas and consider other ways of doing things instead of saying “This is the way we’ve always done such and such.”

Being of one mind. This means we are focused on the same purpose. We have the same Lord and we belong to the same team. Our goals and purposes are the same. We have the same enemy and we are on the same side in the conflict against the Devil. Look for the word “same” in the letter to the Philippians – it is very instructive.

This requires listening to each other. Being of one mind requires valuing other’s input. That means I have to stop and consider the feelings of others. We have to take the foot off the accelerator sometimes and remember that the task is not as important as our relationships with each other.

If we accomplished the job, but we hurt people and alienated them along the way, then was it worth it? Of course not. If we finished the task, but did it alone when it would have been better to join with others, then we missed the greater purpose. If we finished the task, but stepped all over another brother or sister’s feelings, then what did we really accomplish? God doesn’t want individuals living to themselves. He wants a body. He wants a family.

Let us be of one mind, serving together side by side for Jesus, as Paul encouraged these two sisters in Philippi to remember.

Euodia and Syntyche, Part 2

Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:1-4).

We continue where we left off yesterday in discussing Euodia and Syntyche from the book of Philippians.

Synergy.

Euodia and Syntyche were called “fellow workers” by Paul. He used the Greek word sunergos, which simply means to work together. This word is the basis for our English word synergy, which means “the interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects” (thefreedictionary.com). Many good brothers and sisters in Christ were called fellow workers by Paul – Paul did not spread the gospel to the whole world by himself. There were many selfless servants of Jesus Christ who risked their necks, sacrificed their lives and material goods, and devoted themselves to the high purpose and calling of living and sharing the good news of Jesus. Synergy. Many souls joined their energy, resources and talents together so that through their cooperation, the combined efforts resulted in a greater harvest of souls. “Each part doing its share” (Eph. 4:16).

These ladies were strong-minded workers determined to work as hard as they could for Jesus and for Paul. They are going to heaven – their names are in the Book of Life. Paul tells the congregation to assist these two sisters in their work. It tells you a lot about these two women, doesn’t it?  They wanted to do great things for Jesus, and they were working tirelessly in their work. However, Paul is telling them that doing great things for Jesus is not enough. They must be united as a team, joined together with one mind, as they served the Lord Jesus.

In the same way we considered Priscilla and Aquila’s “synergy” for Jesus, we must also consider the way brothers and sisters work for Jesus. Way too often we work as individuals doing our own thing, going our own way, focused on our “ministry,” but we are not together in spirit.  As long as I work on my task for the Lord and you work on yours, we do just fine, but what happens when we cross paths? When you and I are working on the same task, then your strong opinions cross my strong opinions, and then what? What happens when you don’t teach a class the way I think you should? What happens when we don’t agree on which Bible curriculum we should use for the kids’ classes? How do we handle our disagreements on how to raise our kids, how to educate and discipline them? We both have ideas for how the classrooms should be decorated and furnished, now what?

When we worked independently and left each other alone, everything was great, right? Wrong! It was not okay, because Christ did not save us and leave us to be individuals operating independently. He placed us within a body, both in a universal and a local sense. All Christians everywhere in the world are part of one body of which Christ is the head (Ephesians 1:21-22), but Christians are to work together locally with Christians, assembling as one body and one family to worship, to build each other up, to reach out to save souls, etc. Paul tells the local body of believers in Philippi to be of the same mind, just like a body with hands, feet, eyes and ears working for the same purpose (1 Corinthians 12:11-27).  Euodia and Syntyche were not doing that, even though as individuals they were doing good works for the Lord. My brother, Mark, has said that a “pile of body parts doesn’t make a body.”

Paul doesn’t have to correct their servant attitude, he doesn’t have to tell them to get busy for Jesus, but he has to exhort them apparently to stop butting heads, forsake the opinionated junk, and work together for Jesus as a unit. We must be reminded of the words of God through Amos when He asked, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3).

When you have two very strong people with strong minds and strong wills laboring for God, they sometimes will lock horns because of various differences. As that happens, everyone else is affected because we are a body and family and the true work of God is side-tracked. However, when those strong-minded brothers and sisters put aside their differences and humble themselves and submit their minds to the real work of Christ, it is a powerful and unstoppable force for good. The church at Philippi was doing great things for Jesus and Paul, but they will be even greater when they work as one mind, in harmony of spirit.

More to come tomorrow, Lord willing.

Euodia and Syntyche, part 1

This is an article I wrote years ago, and I’m going to divide it up over the next few days for your consideration.

Euodia and Syntyche

Philippians 4:1-4

A long-awaited letter. Picture yourself back in New Testament times when the congregation in Philippi received a letter from the beloved apostle Paul as he sat in a Roman prison. As the congregation assembled together, they are filled with excitement and great anticipation as the letter is read publicly. This is every saint’s first time to hear Paul’s special words from God for them. They did not have a copy machine, so this was the only copy available for the whole church until someone could hand copy the letter. Today we can freely and quickly send information to outer space and back, and we can turn on our smartphones or tablets and have a live video conversation with someone thousands of miles away. We can see them and they can see us in real time. It seems to be no big deal anymore for most in Western Civilization to communicate across the globe; in fact most of us probably take it for granted.

We may not be able to grasp how incredibly valuable this letter from Paul was that traveled by land and sea from Rome to Philippi. They had been waiting for news and encouragement from the man who is responsible for their beginnings in Jesus Christ (see Acts 16).

Philippians 2 indicates that it was Epaphroditus that hand-delivered this letter to the brethren.  He was the messenger that the brethren at Philippi had sent to Paul to bring things to aid Paul with his necessities. We also know from chapter 2 that the brethren heard that Epaphroditus was sick and almost died, and they were greatly concerned about his welfare.  Paul sent this letter in the hands of Epaphroditus as a way to comfort and encourage the brethren even more.

These Christians at Philippi, “from the very first day” of their salvation, supported Paul’s ministry in multiple ways, especially by sending him funds “once and again” as he was in other locations preaching the gospel (Philippians 1:5; 4:16).  They were hard-working, loving, dedicated servants of Jesus. Paul loved them dearly (Philippians 1:3-9).

A letter all about the mindset of Jesus Christ. So now the church is assembled, and the letter is read. Paul’s short letter is jam-packed with teaching and examples concerning having the mindset of Jesus Christ. This letter is all about mindset and it is all about Jesus as the foundation for that mindset. Paul had that mindset (Philippians 1 and 3). Timothy and Epaphroditus had that mindset (Philippians 2). Jesus demonstrated the ultimate example of that mindset by leaving heaven and coming down to die on the cross (chapter 2). Some did not have this mindset and they became enemies of the cross of Christ, and it made Paul weep (chapter 3).

As they near the conclusion of the letter, Paul singled out two women in the church at Philippi for a special exhortation about their own mindset and he also addressed the congregation about their responsibility toward these two sisters.  Let us consider what these sisters heard from Paul as this letter was read in front of the whole congregation.

Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:1-4).

Are your ears burning? Can you imagine sitting in the assembly and hearing your name singled out by the apostle Paul in this letter? Even more, can you picture sitting there as Paul in his letter tells you and the other sister to get along in the Lord? How did he know? Would your face turn red? How would you respond to being singled out for this exhortation by God’s apostle?

I’m begging you! Paul used this verb “implore” twice, once for each woman. The word is parakaloo, which means to call near to one’s side; it is also translated “urge”, “plead”, “beseech”, “entreat.” I like the word “beg.” I beg Euodia…I beg Syntyche. Whatever was going on between Euodia and Syntyche is unknown to us, but just like the situations in the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:11; 11:18) it was a matter that had come to Paul’s attention, and required his Spirit-led input to guide them.

As I teach often, “the issue is never really the issue.” Christians get bent out of shape over something and think that some issue, decision, or course of action is worth the fight.  Because of that determination to win or to prove ourselves justified, we end up severing relationships, hurting feelings and slowing down the work that we should be accomplishing for Jesus. The issue or decision that was supposed to be the thing we were discussing was forgotten long ago, and it becomes about personalities, long-held resentment and bitterness, who is more involved in the church, who has been here longer, who knows more, etc.

Did you notice in the text that Paul never addressed the specific issues between Euodia and Syntyche? He didn’t say, “Euodia, you were right on this topic concerning helping the widows.” Or, “Syntyche, your way of doing things is better suited for teaching the young women than the way sister Euodia really wants to do it.” No, because the issue was not the real problem. What really mattered was that Paul begged them to keep working for the Lord, but to do it joined together in unison.

Part 2 to come tomorrow, Lord willing.

When You Fast

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:16-18)

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
(Matthew 9:14-15)

Someone at our congregation requested a lesson on fasting, so I am doing some studying on that. Fasting, as I’m sure many know is the abstaining from food or other things for a period of time. People do it for all kinds of reasons: dietary, emotional, spiritual, etc.

We see that in the Old Testament, the Jews were commanded by God to fast one day a year, on the day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29). But for the Christian there is no command for us on when to fast or for how long to fast. However, as we can observe in the passages above, Jesus said there would be a time for His disciples to fast.

  • Jesus assumed we would fast. In Matthew 6, He says, “When you fast…,” and in Matthew 9 He said, “Then they will fast.” It’s clear that Jesus knew that fasting would be part of our walk with Him.
  • He gave us instructions on our attitude/heart as we fast. This is a very powerful and intimate thing a Christian does with God, but it can really be turned into an attention / glory seeking practice, as it did for many in Jesus’ day. Jesus would rather you have a full tummy and a humble heart, than an empty stomach and a vain, attention-seeking heart.
  • We can see that this is a private, individual decision between Jesus and me. There is no mandated time for Christians to fast, although we see Christians fasting in the New Testament. This is something you decide for you. Again, it’s between you and God only. Church leaders cannot decide this for you.
  • Another point to make is that we see the churches practicing fasting and prayer when it came time to appoint leaders for the churches. It doesn’t seem like it was mandated, but we see the brethren fasting and praying before putting people into certain places of authority. It shows the seriousness of the matter, doesn’t it?

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
(Acts 13:1-3)

And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
(Acts 14:23)

This is a start. More will probably come later.

The Benefits of Reading Scripture Aloud

Here is a link to a great article on BibleGateway.com about the benefits of reading Scripture aloud.

Also, here is a link to a Bible Project video about the public reading of Scripture.

Below are several passages about the Scripture being read out loud, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. May this encourage us all today as families and churches to see the benefits of reading God’s word out loud.

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
(1 Timothy 4:13)

And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
(Nehemiah 8:1-3)

And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.
(Joshua 8:34-35)

Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”
(Deuteronomy 31:9-13)

“For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”
(Acts 15:21)

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
(Luke 4:16-17)

And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.
(Colossians 4:16)

I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
(1 Thessalonians 5:27)

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
(Revelation 1:3)

All The Way My Savior Leads Me

The theme at our congregation this year is from a song by Fanny J Crosby, All The Way My Savior Leads Me.

Our focus this year here at our congregation is leadership:

Jesus’ leadership of us.

Our leadership of others.

Here are a few key passages on the leadership of Jesus:

  • Psalm 23 – This beloved and classic psalm tells us so much about the heart of God as our Shepherd and what His leadership/shepherdship is all about.
  • Ezekiel 34 – Because of the horribly selfish, domineering and aggressive leadership that existed at the time, God promised that one day He would be the shepherd. Specifically, the Son of David would come and be the One Shepherd over God’s people. He would seek the lost, bind up the wounded and feed the flock.
  • Isaiah 40:11 – The Messiah Jesus leads us like a gentle shepherd.
  • John 10 – Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He’s not for hire, He owns the sheep. Jesus the Good Shepherd has a close, intimate relationship with the sheep and they follow His voice. As the Good Shepherd, He lays down His life for the sheep. He doesn’t run when there is trouble, He protects the flock from thieves and wolves.
  • In several passages, Jesus is called the Great Shepherd, or the Chief Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (1 Peter 2:25; 5:4; Hebrews 13:20). We are the flock of God, and Jesus is constantly watching out over our souls.

As we focus on these passages, God’s word forms a portrait what you and I are to be as leaders/shepherds today. Jesus’ leadership style is to be our leadership style. His heart is to be our heart. How He shepherds is how we are to shepherd.

This will affect our church leadership, our parenting, our behavior and attitude in the workplace and community. As we begin to see our relationship with others as a shepherd, then our whole attitude and focus will change. May God the Chief Shepherd transform our hearts into true shepherd’s hearts.