Sunday, November 8, 2015, 11:34 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Lord’s Anointed.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 23 (quoting vv. 1-6 NASB). Destroying Shepherds (vv. 1-2; cf. Ezekiel 34) “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the Lord.” There may be some overlap between this section and next, as one who is a shepherd may also be one who prophesies. A shepherd should be one “who protects, guides, or watches over a person or group of people” (dictionary.com). Thus, a shepherd could be the head of a household, a pastor, an elder, a deacon, a small group leader or Bible teacher, a nursery worker, a mother or father (or grandparents), a boss (office or business manager), or a government leader such as a congressman, senator, mayor, city councilman, governor, or the president (or supreme leader) of a nation and his cabinet members, etc. The shepherds were destroying and scattering the sheep. I see two ways in which this is taking place in our world and in my nation today. One is via our government leaders nationally and globally. The sheep are being destroyed literally through death, though eternally saved, and forever rejoicing with God in glory. These false shepherds of the people, many of whom claim to be Christians themselves, are killing the saints of Almighty God as a campaign to halt the spreading of the gospel of our salvation so that they can bring about a one-world religion, which blends all religions into one, under one authority (the beast), and in which no one tries to convince another that his or her faith is superior to another, or that others need what they have in order to have the hope of salvation and the promise of heaven. This killing of Christians, as well, is masked as humanitarian aid, a refugee crisis, a rescue effort, a nuclear deal, a budget deal, climate change talks, and/or going after “terrorists,” et al, but that is mostly all a lie. So, the way in which the sheep, in this case, are being scattered is that they are fleeing for safety, i.e. for their lives. Another way in which these false shepherds are destroying and scattering the sheep is through lies, manipulations and deception. They are diluting the gospel to the point to where it is no longer the gospel according to Jesus Christ, but a man-made feel-good gospel which tickles the itching ears of those who listen. And, they are incorporating false teaching, even that of other religions and of mysticism and the occult, in with Christian teachings, in order to prepare the way for people to accept this one-world religion in which we all join hands together across the world in unity under a false god (the beast), which is really the god of this world, Satan (the devil). They are getting the church to adopt the ways of this sinful world so that there is not much difference (distinction) between the church and the world anymore. Instead of confronting the world with sin, and calling for repentance, they are entertaining the world and are patterning their meetings after what brings pleasure to the people of the world so as not to offend them, and so they will want to come back. As well, as they are getting the church to ostracize and reject those who are holding to the faith, and to the Word of God as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, and to convince Christians and the world alike that these followers of Christ are the real enemy, i.e. we are “extremists” who must be silenced. Lying Prophets (referencing vv. 9-40) One of the accusations against these lying prophets is that they “strengthen the hands of evil doers, so that no one turns from his wickedness.” I believe the way this is taking place within the church today is via this false grace gospel which is being taught in place of the gospel as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles. This false grace gospel gives free license to continue in sin without guilt or the need for remorse. They teach that God does not require repentance (turning from sin) or obedience to his commands, and that God does not even see their sin, for when he looks at them, all he sees is Christ’s righteousness. To some degree, this last statement is true for those who are true followers of Christ. We are no longer condemned to hell nor held in bondage to sin, for by the blood of Christ we have been set free, and thus Christ’s righteousness has been credited to our accounts. We can do nothing to earn or deserve our own salvation. Only through faith in Christ and what he did for us in dying for our sins can we have salvation and eternal life with God. Our own righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight. Yet, is it true that God can no longer see our sin, or that he winks at sin, or that he smiles at us and is delighted in or pleased with us when we are steeped in sinful rebellion against him? The Bible says “No.” Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives of sin we will lose them for eternity, but if we die with Christ to sin, we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul said that Jesus died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not after the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to the Spirit. If we persist in conducting our lives after the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (Ro. 8:1-14). “We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?” (Ro. 6:2). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). God’s grace teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). If we say we have fellowship with God, and we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). Not only do these lying prophets try to convince you that you can be saved and have your ticket into heaven without being crucified with Christ to sin, and without, by the Spirit, being resurrected with Christ to new lives, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” but they try to convince you that God will never punish or discipline you, that nothing bad will happen to you, and that you will be raptured and taken to heaven to be with God before a time of tribulation would come upon you. So, people come to believe that all they have to do is to confess Christ audibly (or not), believe, at least intellectually, that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and they are saved and bound for heaven, no matter if they ever change, or if they continue in willful sin and rebellion against God. Yet, the Bible says the opposite. It warns much against taking God lightly, and thinking a mere form of worship is going to save us. If we persist in continuing to conduct our lives after the flesh, and not according to the Spirit, we will die (be lost for eternity). It is what God’s word teaches. Our Righteousness (vv. 3-6) “Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord. “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’ A day is coming when Jesus Christ, God the Son, will judge these lying prophets who tell the people lies, and these false shepherds who ruin and who scatter the sheep, and he will gather his sheep from the four corners of the earth to be with him forever. I believe scripture teaches that, via judgment, the wandering church will be revived, the gospel will go out from the revived church throughout the earth, and that many people from all nations will be saved before the day our Lord returns for his bride, to gather us to himself (See book of Isaiah, for one). When Jesus comes for his remnant, we who belong to him will be transformed into glorified bodies, and we will reign with Christ on the earth for a period of 1,000 years, though I am not certain that is a literal 1,000 years, though it could be. What that 1,000 years looks like exactly I don’t know for sure, other than we won’t be in flesh bodies anymore, so we will no longer be tempted by sin, and we won’t be afraid anymore. Amen! We will all live in safety. The beast and the false prophet will have been cast into the lake of fire, and the dragon (Satan) will be bound. Oh, that will be wonderful!! Until then, we are to continue the work of the ministry that Jesus Christ began when he walked the face of this earth. We are to preach the good news of salvation, which proclaims freedom to those held captive to sin, yet not just freedom from eternal damnation, but freedom from slavery to sin, that we might become slaves (servants) of righteousness. We are not released from our sin-induced prisons if we have never died with Christ to sin and if we have not been resurrected with Christ to new lives in Christ Jesus, which are to be lived in the power and working of his Spirit within us, now walking in his righteousness and holiness. True freedom sets us free from bondage to sin, and frees us to come under the control of righteousness. So, if you have never repented of (turned from) your sin, and turned to follow Jesus with your life, and to walk in obedience to him, in the power of his Spirit, I pray you will do so today. Your life depends on it, as does your eternity. Give Jesus Christ your all today, while you still have today. Not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow. The Lord’s Anointed / An Original Work / December 16, 2011 Based off Isaiah 61 The Spirit of the Sov’reign Lord on me; Anointed to preach the Good News; Sent me to bind up the brokenhearted; Proclaim freedom for the captives. He sent me to preach release for pris’ners Who are walking in sin’s darkness; Proclaim God’s grace to all men who’ll listen; And tell them about God’s judgments; Comfort all who mourn; Give crowns of beauty; Oil of gladness and thanksgiving. They will be called oaks of God’s righteousness, A planting of our Savior, God, For the display of our Lord’s splendor, and They will rebuild God’s holy church. God will renew them, and will restore them, And you’ll be called priests of the Lord. You will be ministers of our God, and You will rejoice in salvation. The Lord loves justice; He is faithful to Reward those who are seeking Him. I delight greatly in the Lord; My soul rejoices in my Savior, God. He has clothed me with His salvation, And in a robe of His righteousness. He has given me priestly garments to Wear, as the bride of Jesus Christ. As the garden of our Lord and Savior, He causes us to grow in Him. He makes righteousness, Praise, and thanksgiving Spring up before all the nations.