The Knowledge of God – F260

2 Peter 1:2-4 – “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.” 

Today I want to focus on knowledge, the knowledge of God which is a foundational principle of our spiritual growth. So, how do we gain knowledge about God? That’s where the Bible comes in. 

1. George Muller, who established many orphanages throughout England, said… “I believe that the one chief reason that I have been kept in happy useful service is that I have been a lover of Holy Scripture. It has been my habit to read the Bible through four times a year; in a prayerful spirit, to apply it to my heart, and practice what I find there. I have been for sixty-nine years a happy man; happy, happy, happy.” 

2. Ronald Reagan said, “Within the covers of one single book, the Bible, are all the answers to all the problems that face us today—if only we would read and believe.” 

3. Missionary Amy Carmichael said, “Never let good books take the place of the Bible. Drink from the Well, not from the streams that flow from the Well.” 

4. And this may be the most direct, author unknown, “A Bible in the hand is worth two in the bookcase.” 

If you don’t hear anything else I say today, get this: Let’s make 2021 the best year ever in your spiritual growth by reading the entire New Testament. That is the reason I have organized this Foundation 260 initiative. Let’s read the New Testament together. 

I don’t think there is anything more basic to knowing and loving Christ, and obeying him, than to hear God speak to us though his Word and then to speak back to him with the prayers and praises and obedience which flows from our hearts. 

The reason for that is because it is so plain that today God reveals himself to us by the Word.  

  1. The living Christ in his bodily form is not here. He has ascended and taken his place at the right hand of God.  
  1. Neither are his inspired prophets and apostles here. God has ordained for himself to be known primarily by the Word that was recorded from those prophets and apostles—especially those who knew the Lord himself in his physical form—and preserved what we need to know in this book. 

But let’s face it, reading through the entire Bible or even committing to reading a daily portion can be difficult. It can be a struggle to stay with it every day. That’s the way it is with most new things that we make a commitment to start; fitness, exercise, college, dieting. We begin with enthusiasm but somewhere along the way we give up. We lose focus, the excitement wanes. 

We may feel that we don’t have the time for reading the Bible every day.  But Dr. Tony Evans reminds us that we always have time for what is first on our list. The question then becomes: Is the Bible first on our list? 

Why is the Bible important? 

1) The Bible is enduring and lasting. (Because God is enduring) – Psalm 119:89 says: “Your Word, Oh Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” Isaiah 40:8 tells us, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever.” 

We live in changing times. Fads come and go, social mores change and we tend to drift away from God’s Word and lean more toward society and the culture around us.  

But the Word of God is enduring! Isaiah contrasts it with flowers and grass. Flowers and grass may be here today and we enjoy them, but we know that they are short-lived. Their beauty is fleeting. The same is true of us, our time on earth is short. Our earthly “wisdom” is usually shortsighted. God’s Word endures and stands firm in the ups and downs of life. 

The purposes of God, as published in these sacred writings, will never be stopped (cf. Matt. 5:18; 24:25; Mark 13:3; Luke 16:17). Remember the words in Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” So, the Bible is enduring, but it is also trustworthy… 

2) The Bible is trustworthy (Because God is trustworthy) – Psalm 111:7 says, “All he does is just and good, and all his commandments are trustworthy.” In Ezekiel 12:25, “For I am the Lord! If I say it, it will happen.”  

God will fulfill what he says. He will honor his promises. He is faithful and just and we can depend on what he says. You can build your life upon the foundation of the Bible. 

In our world it can sometimes be very difficult to find a trustworthy and reliable person. Whether a car mechanic or a doctor or a plumber, a trustworthy person can be hard to find. People often go back on their word. They fail to live up to their commitments. Have YOU ever been burned by an unreliable person? Have you put your trust in something or someone and they let you down? Most of us have and that makes us a little hesitant to trust. But God has always been and always will be faithful, and because he is faithful, his word can be trusted. Since he has been faithful in the past, he can be trusted to be faith in the present.  

Why am I challenging you to read the Bible? 

Let’s start with the negative: we don’t want to be ignorant of what God has told us.  

  1. Paul often warned his readers that he did not want them to be ignorant about important subjects, like when he wrote to the Romans in 11:25 pleading with them not to be ignorant regarding the dealings of God with Gentiles and the nation of Israel. 
  1. He warned the Corinthians repeatedly about not being ignorant of several different theological subjects. He said in 1 Corinthians 12:1 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.” He was also disappointed with them regarding their divisions in the church and he was saddened that they were still needing milk like infants when they should have been pressing on to more substantial “meaty subjects.” 
  1. He warned then not to be ignorant concerning the schemes of Satan (2 Corinthians 2:11).  
  1. He warned the Thessalonians to not be ignorant concerning Christ’s second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13) 

The writer to the Hebrews grieved over their lack of spiritual progress in Hebrews 5:11-12 – “There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.” 

Jesus rebuked the Sadducees for their lack of Bible knowledge, like in Matthew 22:29 – “Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” 

Likewise, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in Matthew 12:3 by saying, “Have you not read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry?” 

God speaks to us through his Word and we dont want to be unaware of what he is saying to us. That is why it is important that we spend time reading His Word. 

Now let’s look at some positive reasons: 

Reading God’s word gives us: Education, Endurance, Encouragement and Hope. 

Look at Romans 15:4 – “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” 

The Scripture is given for our EDUCATION. That presupposes that we will not only be reading the Bible regularly but that we will also be studying it for ourselves. We can’t rely exclusively on the teaching of others. We need to be in the Word ourselves. Reading, meditating, and memorizing, and digging into the parables and the narrative sections and the doctrine and the theology. We need to be listening to God speaking through his Word. 

The Bible is given for us to ENDURE – We need to read God’s Word in difficult times. When the news is bad. When things are not working out like we had hoped. We don’t need endurance when times are good. Contained within the pages of the Bible are stories of endurance. Check our Hebrews 11 and read about the Hall of Faithfulness.  

These are stories of men and women whose faith endured in the midst of difficult times. We have wonderful records of the prophets who endured all sorts of treatment and lack of results for their effort.  

And coming to the New Testament we see Jesus who endured ill-treatment and abuse and yet he endured. And going further we observe the Apostles and the early church who through faith in God and his Word, they were able to persevere when the whole world seemed against them. 

Knowing the Bible gives us ENCOURAGEMENT – Many times I have been encouraged by the Scriptures and I’m sure that you have as well. There have been times when it seemed like just the right verse came along at the right time to lift me up and to help me keep going. I don’t see how lost people are able to deal with tragedy and difficulty. How does a person who does not know God deal with loss, suffering, and hardship? Many turn to alcohol or drugs or other forms of abuse to deaden the pain. But those things don’t solve the problems, do they? In fact, they make the problems worse. 

When I am feeling down, I know that I can turn to God’s Word and be lifted up out of that pit. But I need to be regularly in that Word in order for the Holy Spirit to bring out the help that I need.  

Finally, knowing the Bible gives us HOPE – You can live for weeks without food. You can go for days without water. But how long can you live without hope? Ken recently reminded us of the words of Dostoevsky who said, “To live without hope is to cease to live.” Shakespeare said, “The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope”  

Theologian Ken Boa wrote, “People cannot live without hope. Throughout history, human beings have endured the loss of many things. People have lost their health, their finances, their reputations, their careers, even their loved ones, and yet have endured. The pages of history books are filled with those who suffered pain, rejection, isolation, persecution, and abuse; there have been people who faced concentration camps with unbroken spirits and unbowed heads, people who have been devastated by Job-like trials and yet found the strength to go on without cursing God and dying. Humans can survive the loss of almost anything – but not without hope.” 

We live by hope, and when hope is gone, endurance and joy and energy and courage just evaporate. Life itself begins to fade. When hope goes, we start to die. One of the most profound proverbs of the Bible says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12). 

Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit..” 

Maybe you agree that having the habit of daily Bible reading is a good idea. Maybe you struggle with being able to carry it out long term. In the past maybe you have started out well only to struggle somewhere along the path. 

In previous years, we have challenged you to read the whole Bible in a year. That may be nothing new for you; I’ve begun to read the whole Bible in a year on many occasions… the emphasis is on “begun.” But with all the best intentions, we sometimes aren’t able to finish the whole Bible in a year.  

This year, let’s try something different. Rather than focusing on reading through the Bible in a year, let’s focus on getting to know the God of the Bible. Let’s not read these chapters to check it off our reading list but focus on what God wants to teach us through our daily reading.  

Foundation 260 is all about reading a chapter a day, focusing on that one verse a day that jumps off the page for you, reading Monday through Friday. The New Testament has 260 chapters, and when we read 5 chapters a week, we cover the entire New Testament in the 52 weeks of 2021.  

You can do this on your own, if you choose. I have a few helpful tools in the foyer.  

Or, you might prefer the accountability of reading with other people who will challenge and encourage you to keep up with your reading, and also rejoice with you as you share how God is speaking to you through reading the Bible. Here is a link to join my Monday group.

There is a YouVersion App with an F260 reading plan, what could be easier? You can invite your friends to read with you and to hold each other accountable. I have also developed a few tools to help you succeed. 

1) This one explains the process and gives a lot of information to help you dig into the text.  

2) This one is the reading plan itself, reminding you what you will read each week to stay on track, and  

3) This one is the monthly reading and application guide to record your reading and actually write down what God is teaching you each day.  

This next year, won’t you join me in reading through the New Testament? We all understand that Bible study is so important, but hearing God speak is even greater.  

Let’s do this in 2021. Will you make the commitment to be a part of Foundation 260? Will you read the text each day? Will you join or start a group to discuss what God is teaching you?  

Let’s pray about it. 

Lord Jesus, we need to hear from you. We confess that we have not advanced toward maturity as we first hoped, and that we have become distracted and stagnant in the worries and cares of this life. Father, help us to make this commitment in good faith, and help us to trust you to keep us on track, because you have said through your Word that, “…I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” Father, we cannot do this on our own, and it would be futile to try to make it happen, but with all praise going to YOU, we can do this together with your help. Lord Jesus, speak to us, and make our lives useful to you. AMEN 

During this next song, seek God’s direction about your involvement in the challenge. 

I won’t shame anyone who is not ready to make this commitment, but perhaps you have been waiting for such an opportunity to do something like this. So, if you are on board with F260, would you stand up right now and show this congregation the desire of your heart to take on this challenge.  

Seriously, if you’re not ready to do this, I understand, people around you understand. Please don’t stand up if you need more time to consider this commitment.  

Closing Remarks: Find out more at the church website, come up and talk to me about it, join the group through the church groups app, and let’s make 2021 the best year ever for your spiritual growth. 

The Prophecy of Joel

Part 5 of my Series on Women
[ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 ]

The prophet Joel predicted that one day the Holy Spirit would be poured out on the church and as a result, “your sons and your daughters will prophesy” (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17-18). This passage clearly indicates that when the New Testament age began, both men and women would be empowered and commissioned to carry the message of the gospel to the world. God’s Holy Spirit would no longer rest simply on isolated individuals as was the case under the Old Covenant. In the Pentecostal age, all believers—regardless of gender, ethnicity, or social status—would have full access to the graces of the Spirit and would speak the utterances of God.

If preaching were to have been limited to men only, Joel would not have mentioned daughters in his prediction. He would have said instead, “In the last days, I will pour out My Spirit, and your sons will prophesy while your daughters serve quietly in the background and pray for the men.” That is not what the Bible says. It clearly states that women will preach. They will lead. They will be on the front lines of ministry. Like Deborah, they will take the church into enemy territory and watch as the Lord gives victory. Like Esther, they will not keep silent. Like Phoebe, they will co-labor with apostles to establish churches in unevangelized regions.

If this is the clear mandate of Joel 2:28, why do churches that pride themselves on faithful adherence to a literal translation of the Bible reject it? There is no biblical basis for the popular notion that prophesying or preaching is a uniquely masculine act. Both genders have been called to minister in the Holy Spirit’s power, and we grieve Him when we restrict the full release of that power by forbidding women to speak God’s Word or use their talents in His service. We will answer to God for limiting His work by restricting the flow of His Spirit through women who have been called to speak for Him.

Some Christian leaders have emphasized that when a woman speaks in public, she can “share” but she can’t preach. The idea was that if women are put in a place of public ministry and are asked to speak, they must do it meekly (or sheepishly) to somehow demonstrate that they are not being forceful in the presence of men. How ridiculous! Perhaps the men are afraid that the women will preach better?

All of this information is gleaned from – Grady, J Lee. Ten Lies The Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused to Keep Women in Spiritual Bondage (pp. 52-53). Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

Jesus and Apostolic Women

Part 4 of my Series on Women
[ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 ]

Why Were No Women Included With the Twelve Apostles? Many conservative theologians argue that if Jesus really believed in empowering women for leadership, He would have appointed one or more females to serve among His twelve disciples. It is assumed that since all the Twelve were male, only men can occupy the top positions of authority in the church. But again, we must take into consideration the culture of Jesus’ day. Women were not allowed to occupy any positions of authority in first-century Palestine.

It is also important for us to recognize that even though Jesus selected twelve Jewish males to lead the early church, He was in no way signaling that future leaders of the church must be Jewish. To the contrary, the Holy Spirit showed the early disciples that the gospel was also sent to the Gentiles—and within a few years Gentile apostles emerged. So, we must see that just because the first apostles were male, this does not set a precedent for all time. Women, including Priscilla and Junia, were already functioning in missionary and apostolic ministry roles by the time the early church began it’s western expansion.

All of this information is gleaned from – Grady, J Lee. Ten Lies The Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused to Keep Women in Spiritual Bondage (p. 51). Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

Women in Biblical History

Part 3 of my Series on Women
[ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 ]

The Bible records a rich history of women who were placed in authority by God. It would be wise to consider the way God used women before we attempt to pull an isolated Scripture out of context to build a doctrine that restricts the ministry opportunities of women. Consider the following biblical women and the level of authority they were given:

  1. Miriam. There is no question that Moses’ sister was considered a leader in ancient Israel. This is confirmed in Micah 6:4: “Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt and ransomed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” She represented the authority of God to the people in the same way Moses did. She spoke for God. That’s why she is described in Exodus 15:20 as a prophetess.
  2. Deborah. Among the judges of Israel, Deborah was the only one who held the respected position of prophet other than Samuel. She is referred to as a prophetess in Judges 4:4, and her attentiveness to God’s purpose and strategy resulted in an impressive military victory for Israel that secured peace for forty years. (Judges 5:31.) She was married, but her husband, Lappidoth, did not share her position of spiritual authority, and we know little about him. Deborah functioned as a civil ruler and was so respected for her anointing and spiritual insights that Barak, Israel’s military commander, refused to go into battle without her.
  3. Huldah. After fifty years of paganism and spiritual adultery in Israel, King Josiah assumed the throne and rediscovered the Book of the Law, which had been hidden in the temple. When it was read aloud, he immediately repented and turned to the Lord, then sent his high priest to seek out a faithful follower of God who could speak for Him. To whom did they turn? To Huldah, a prophetess who obviously had remained faithful to the Lord during one of the darkest periods in Israel’s history. (2 Kings 22:14.) The fact that Israel’s high priest, Hilkiah, and his associates sought her out to make their inquiry of the Lord shows that she had earned a reputation for hearing from God.
  4. Esther. Although she did not function in a place of ecclesiastical authority, Esther’s life proves that God can and does use women in strategic positions of influence to further His purposes. Indeed, he singled out this young Jewish woman and thrust her into the place of an intercessor and deliverer, not unlike Moses, and her prayers and courageous actions literally saved her people from genocide.
  5. Phoebe. Paul commended this woman to the church at Rome and asked them to “receive her in the Lord” when she arrived from Cenchreae to work among them (Romans 16:1–2). Although he refers to her as a diakonon, the Greek word for deacon, the word is translated servant in many Bible versions. But it is more accurate to place her in the category of deacon with men such as Stephen and Philip, for the same Greek word is used to describe them.
  6. Priscilla. Along with her husband, Aquila, this woman was a noted laborer in the early church, and it was this couple’s influence that helped launch the apostolic ministry of Apollos (Acts 18:24–26). It would be safe to say that they also functioned as apostles, since Paul refers to them in Romans 16:3 as “fellow workers in Christ Jesus.”
  7. Philip’s daughters. We are told in Acts 21:9 that Philip the evangelist had four daughters who were “prophetesses.” We know nothing about them, but we can assume that their influence was significant enough to be mentioned in the biblical record. Obviously they were engaged in public speaking, and their words carried the same level of authority as the words of Agabus—a male prophet who is described in the same passage.
  8. Lois and Eunice. The apostle Paul commends these two women—Timothy’s mother and grandmother—for shaping the young man’s ministry through their instruction and example. Although it is an obscure passage, it is a crucial one because so many churches today use Paul’s letters to Timothy to justify misguided policies that limit the scope of women’s ministry.
  9. Junia the apostle. What? An apostle? Paul’s reference to this woman in Romans 16:7 has created quite a controversy because she is referred to as an apostle, Bible scholars and translators have assumed that she could not have been a woman—since females can’t possibly function in an apostolic role. But Junia was a common Latin name for a woman.

All of this information is gleaned from – Grady, J Lee. Ten Lies The Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused to Keep Women in Spiritual Bondage (pp. 46-48). Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

Shepherding God’s People

King’s Grant Discipleship Ministry
Teacher Training Series
This is an overview of the 7 types of sheep we find in Ezekiel 34 and Zechariah 11

Shepherding God’s People Series:

  1. Shepherding God’s People – Overview
  2. Shepherding Weak Sheep
  3. Shepherding Sick Sheep
  4. Shepherding Broken Sheep
  5. Shepherding Lost Sheep
  6. Shepherding Scattered Sheep
  7. Shepherding Young Sheep
  8. Shepherding Standing Sheep

Here is the transcript of this video lesson…

Shepherding God’s People

A good Shepherd provides personalized care based upon the sheep’s spiritual condition. The prophets Ezekiel and Zechariah bring “woes” against the Shepherds of Israel that are described as “faithless,” “foolish” and “worthless.” The Shepherds of Israel that didn’t provide individualized care were accused of taking a position of leadership in order to just feed themselves rather than the flock of God’s people entrusted to them. God was not ambiguous about what He thought of these men – “I am against the Shepherds” (Ezekiel 34:10).

Ezekiel 34:1-16 and Zechariah 11:15-17 break the flock of God down into seven kinds of sheep that need specialized care. Each believer under your care, these people in your class, will move from one category to another depending upon their spiritual journey and life circumstances.

Let’s look at these two passages of Scripture:

Ezekiel 34:1-16 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Shepherds of Israel

34 Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? 3 You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. 4 You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. 5 So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal. 6 They have wandered through all the mountains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them.

7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were my shepherds, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve. 9 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I now consider these shepherds my enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to my flock. I will take away their right to feed the flock, and I will stop them from feeding themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths; the sheep will no longer be their prey.

The Good Shepherd

11 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. 13 I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live. 14 Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak. But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes—feed them justice!

Zechariah 11:15-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 Then the Lord said to me, “Go again and play the part of a worthless shepherd. 16 This illustrates how I will give this nation a shepherd who will not care for those who are dying, nor look after the young, nor heal the injured, nor feed the healthy. Instead, this shepherd will eat the meat of the fattest sheep and tear off their hooves.

17 “What sorrow awaits this worthless shepherd who abandons the flock! The sword will cut his arm and pierce his right eye. His arm will become useless, and his right eye completely blind.”

As we study these passages, you will see that God desires shepherds to:

  1. Strengthen the weak
  2. Heal the sick
  3. Bind up the broken
  4. Bring back the scattered
  5. Seek the lost (perishing)
  6. Seek the young
  7. Feed the standing (healthy)

Today I want to present an overview to look at these sheep, and some scripture to help us know and minister to these people who are in our care.

Weak Sheep [Ezekiel 34:4]

Shepherd’s Responsibility: Strengthen the Weak

Description: Weak sheep are not necessarily “unruly” or “fainthearted,” they simply don’t have the strength to stand on their own without support (Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica, “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Sometimes, Extra Grace is Required (EGR), so these types need to be shepherded with patience. It’s also important that these individuals don’t become dependent on the shepherd, but learn to ultimately stand on their own. These sheep need to be able to one day feed themselves. It’s important to remember the principle “Weakness prolonged becomes willfulness.”

Hebrews 11:33-34 – who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 – We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 – And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

Romans 7:15, 19, 22-23 – For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate… For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want…. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

Acts 20:35 – In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Broken Sheep [Ezekiel 34:4,16; Zechariah 11:16, Psalm 147:3; Matthew 12:20]

Shepherd’s Responsibility: Bind Up the Broken

Description: Broken sheep are those who have been injured or wounded in some way. Sometimes the wound is a broken heart from the loss of a loved one in death. They need to be bandaged up and given a lot of TLC (tender loving care). Others have had their will broken through the discipline of the Lord and need to be carried after their dislocated or broken legs are bound up. Others have broken relationships that, apart from a third party (like a shepherd’s intervention), are unlikely to be restored.

Psalm 147:2-3 – The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

Matthew 12:17-21 – This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

18 “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen;
My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased;
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 “He will not quarrel, nor cry out;
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
20 “A battered reed He will not break off,
And a smoldering wick He will not put out,
Until He leads justice to victory.
21 “And in His name the Gentiles will hope.”

Lost (Perishing) Sheep [Ezekiel 34:4,16; Zechariah 11:16, Luke 15:1-7]

Shepherd’s Responsibility: Seek the Lost. These people need to hear the plan of salvation

Description: Every flock is just one generation away from extinction. Every shepherd is one generation away from unemployment. As shepherds, we must not rely on “transfer growth” (sheep stealing from another flock) to increase our flock size but must be actively and intentionally seeking out lost people who are perishing. This includes finding new and innovative ways to introduce church life to those who feel “cut off.” These folks feel there are no points of re-entry into the congregation.

Ezekiel 34:4 – … the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.

Ezekiel 34:16 – “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; …

Luke 15:1-7 – Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Scattered/Driven Away Sheep [Ezekiel 34:4,5,6,8,16, Matthew 9:36-38]

Shepherd’s Responsibility: Bring Back the Scattered

Description: The longer you wait to retrieve scattered sheep, the less likely they are to return. Some have strayed on their own for a variety of reasons, but others have been “driven away.” It’s the shepherd’s responsibility to make a sincere and conscientious attempt to bring them back.

Matthew 9:36-38 – Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Ezekiel 34:6 – My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.

Ezekiel 34:8 – …My shepherds did not search for My flock,…

Ezekiel 34:16 – I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; …

Sick Sheep [Ezekiel 34:4,16]

Shepherd’s Responsibility: Heal the Sick (physically)

Description: Some sheep that are sick have physical health problems while others are spiritually sick. Sin-sick sheep often need to be reminded that the words “by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24-25) are just as applicable to a believer who has sinned as they are to an unbeliever. Physically sick sheep often need a shepherd to provide care while they are sickly. It’s also important to help sick sheep to discern the kind of sickness they are experiencing. Is it a sickness unto death, a sickness unto chastisement, a sickness to manifest the work of God and to glorify Him, or to teach contentment with the sufficiency of God’s Grace in the midst of sickness?

1 Peter 2:24-25 – and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

John 11:14 – But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

1 John 5:16 – If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.

1 Corinthians 11:32 – But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

Hebrews 12:4-6 – You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation, which is addressed to you as sons,

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

Young Sheep [Zechariah 11:16]

Shepherd’s Responsibility: Seek the Young

Description: Young sheep are very vulnerable and impressionable. The pattern that is set for them in those early years of their newly found faith is usually characteristic of the rest of their Christian lives. Getting off to a good start is so important. A newborn baby in the natural world needs lots of attention; parents who don’t provide specialized care are often accused by civil authorities of child neglect or abuses.

It’s no different in the spiritual world. It is so important to pour into the lives of young sheep!

There is plenty we can do to raise up these young sheep to make a significant difference in the lives of other around them. The goal is to move them from infancy to adolescence, to adulthood, and eventually into parenthood (making disciples of others). This is all about the Discipleship Pathway and our Small Group Strategy.

Standing (Healthy) Sheep [Zechariah 11:16]

Shepherd’s Responsibility: Feed the Standing

Description: Sheep that are “healthy” have the greatest potential for spiritual growth. They also represent the pool of individuals from which workers and future leaders will come, those who can move the church’s mission forward. Unfortunately, these individuals are often neglected because we are in crisis mode dealing with other kinds of sheep. The old saying is often true, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” It is important to set up a “growth plan” and work with them so that they can progress further rather than becoming complacent or stagnant. This is intentional discipleship that has the end goal in mind from the very beginning. We can easily see of the disciple is making progress toward the biblical image of Christ himself.


Credit for the original teaching goes to my mentor, teacher, and friend, Rick Leineweber.