July 15

Ezekiel 34-36, Psalm 42

A little over 20 years ago, though I had been a Christian for around 10 years, the rest of my family was not there yet. Due to a series of events my wife became open to trying a more Bible based church with me. We began attending one in central Jersey and initially it was like a breath of fresh air. The ritualistic service that we were accustomed to in the former church denomination was replaced by contemporary worship and a message from the Bible. At one message the Pastor told the congregation that it was a sin to enter the sanctuary without a checkbook. A couple of weeks later they twisted certain verses to mean something that they didn't then they took up a second offering to help build the pastor's house. This poor example of a shepherd resulted in our leaving that church and it was another 10 years before my wife got back on the road to accepting Christ. Such is the danger of the false prophet or pastor. In the movie Luther when the Catholic Church I believe was looking to build St Peters Basilica they turned to the character John Tetzel played by Alfred Molina to increase the church revenue by selling indulgences to convince the people that by purchasing them they would be buying their loved ones final destination from hell to heaven. The false shepherds have always plagued the path of those seeking Christ.

We read in Ezekiel 34:2-3, 5-6, "Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherd feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock...So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered...". Jesus makes a similar statement to the scribes and Pharisees of His day in Matthew 23:13, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in." We have all seen personally or read about many shepherds both in the church and in the government who constitute our current bad shepherds who care little for their flock but only for personal gain.

Contrast this with the words in Ezekiel 34:11-12, "For thus says the Lord God: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them...". We read of our Good Shepherd in John 10:11, as Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep." We read just before that in 10:4, "And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice." Jesus our good shepherd came already and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the love of His sheep. But as our Shepherd He has not done with His sheep. He continually intercedes for us at the present. In addition as we read in 1 Peter 5:4, "and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away." The story is far from over and though we don't know the time or hour, our Good Shepherd will return for His flock. So what is our primary role as sheep? To follow the Good Shepherd. That is why the One Year Bible Challenge was originated. By reading the entirety of God's Word annually you get to know, follow and love our Shepherd. Also when choosing a local shepherd in a local congregation we get to see how closely their words and actions align with the Good Shepherd. Many are surprised at my traveling 45 minutes with my wife to go to CCOB. My reason is besides loving the other sheep who congregate there, I have a good and faithful shepherd in Pastor Lloyd Pulley who still loves and lives for God's Word. We should never take our eyes off our One True Good Shepherd and armed with God's Word we should never settle for following a false shepherd.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster