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Posts tagged ‘new testament’

Developing a Strategy to Cope

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Developing A Strategy to Cope

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How can we, as 21st century Christians, keep from falling away. I would call it the COPE strategy: Consider, Persevere and Encourage.

Keep Considering! (Hebrews 3:1-6)

The first thing we do is to consider Jesus or as the NIV here puts it “fix our thoughts”. Now remember, that these are Hebrew believers. I guess we would call them Messianic Jews today. They believed that Jesus was their Messiah, Saviour and Lord. They were obviously coming under pressure from their Jewish friends and leaders to deny this Jesus and return to the fold. They would have been told how great Moses was. In the previous chapter we read how Jesus is greater than the angels, because He is God, but was made a little lower than the angels when he became a man.

Moses was cool

In this chapter, we read a comparison between Jesus and Moses. Moses to the Jews was like a super-hero. Moses was revered because it was to him that God revealed His will. Moses was the key figure in the establishment of Israel as a nation – God’s chosen people! Moses suffered persecution and rejection from the rest of the family of Israel. He had great zeal for God and was willing to sacrifice everything for God. He had fellowship with God. Yet all this is merely a shadow and a prophetic sign of what was to come in Jesus. Moses, we read in Numbers 12:7, was faithful to God’s house, God’s people. The house of God is the people of God. It was this Moses who was held in such high regard by the Jews, that some might well have been tempted to renounce Jesus and go back to the old ways.

God’s Messiah would need to be greater than Moses, and Jesus is and was this Messiah. Later on in the book of Hebrews, we discover that Jesus is greater than Aaron through whom the law was ministered; but here we see that Jesus is greater than Moses, the lawgiver, the servant of the house of God.

Moses and Aaron represented God’s house in Israel; Moses was the Apostle or Prophet and Aaron was the High Priest. Jesus, an Apostle and Prophet as well as being the High Priest, joined the two together. By Apostle, I mean as a Messenger – that’s what an apostle is – a messenger or representative. As the Apostle of our faith, Jesus was faithful. Jesus was God’s representative for us, making God known to us. Jesus was totally faithful, means to be both trusting and to be capable of being trusted.

Moses was the one to whom the Law was given – the Mosaic covenant under which the Jewish people lived. This covenant with Moses commenced with the stipulation “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” (Exodus 19v5). This covenant was to Israel in order that those who believed God’s promise to Abraham, could know how to live rightly in accordance with how God wanted them to live.

This covenant with Moses covered the three areas of life:

  • The commandments were given so they would know how to relate socially to God (Exodus 20v1-6)
  • The judgments were given in order that they could relate socially to each other (Exodus 21v1 – 24v11)
  • The decrees dictated their religious life so that God could be approached by humanity on His terms (Exodus 24v12 – 31v18).

This covenant that God made with Moses and the ancient nation of Israel was never meant to be as a means for providing salvation. It was given so that they could realize the helplessness and futility of their own efforts and their need of God’s help. It was to serve only as a protective fence until the promised Messiah came; the long waited for Saviour of all humanity, so that the whole world, Jew and Gentile, could be made right with God through faith and faith alone.

In Comes Jesus

And that is where Jesus comes in. As their Messiah and Saviour, Jesus ushered in the New Covenant, which was promised by God through the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

What are the features of this New Covenant or promise?

Four features of this covenant are:

  • Regeneration -God will write His law on the hearts of people.
  • Restoration – God will be their God, and they will be His people.
  • Promised Holy Spirit – God will indwell people and they will be led by Him
  • Justification – Sins will be forgiven and removed eternally

This new covenant is sealed only through the perfect sacrifice of the God-Man Jesus on the cross. His blood ensures the truth of this New Covenant. His death pays the penalty for the sins of all people who say yes to God and are ready to run the race and travel the course. This New Covenant finalizes what the Mosaic Covenant could only point to: the follower of God living in a relationship with God conforming to God’s holy character. That is one very specific way of Jesus being superior to Moses! The original readers of this letter being God-fearing Jews would be aware of all this.

They would also be aware that it is sin, which separates humans from God and as a consequence leads to both a spiritual and physical death (Romans 3v23, Romans 6v23, Isaiah 59v2). In the Old Testament, sins were dealt with by blood sacrifices of atonement as coverings for sin (Leviticus 17v11), for without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9v22). A blood sacrifice is God’s way of dealing with sin. These blood sacrifices of the Old Testament signified several things:

  • It provided a covering for sin.
  • It showed the great cost of sin.
  • It was an exchange or substitution.
  • It was only always going to be a temporary measure, as it pointed forward to Jesus’ death and it needed to be done over and over again.

 

So how is Jesus better than Moses? The answer lies in the solution to sin. The ultimate solution to sin lies not in the continual animal sacrifice under the Covenant with Moses, because as the writer later in Hebrews 10v4 stipulates the blood of animals cannot take away sin but was only ever going to be a veneer or a covering. That was why it was necessary to repeat time and time again!

It is only through the victorious death of Jesus, that sin is permanently taken away (Hebrews 9:v11-15, 26-28), because Jesus is the permanent sacrificial substitute! It is as if the writer is saying give up on Jesus, stop considering Him and you would still be in your sins – that’s the way the original readers would have understood it!

And as for us?

As followers of Jesus Christ we are built together so that the Spirit of God may join us together in love. Both individually and as a group, we are the house of God. Jesus said, “We will come and make our home in you”. We know Jesus has been faithful as a Son over God’s people. We celebrate His faithfulness at Easter, when we acknowledge and rejoice at the sacrifice He made for us. We remember it in the act of Communion, which we will have later. Jesus suffered persecution and rejection from his peers. We know Jesus was godly and full of zeal for God, and was willing to sacrifice everything for God and his people. We are the house of God. And yet, do we not reject Jesus sometimes, or do we keep on considering? Do we give Him and trust in His faithfulness to complete the good work he has started in us?

This NIV translation has “fix your thoughts”. Here is how the New King James Version puts verse 1 “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus”. I personally think that that is a better way of putting it. And not only because it has the word partakers in there!

To “consider” has a much broader meaning than just “fixing your thoughts” as the NIV puts it. It means to seek, to fully understand or comprehend as well as fixing thoughtfully. To consider means to contemplate, to think about, to persevere with, to concentrate on and to fix eyes and thoughts upon. We have to allow Jesus Christ to permeate every aspect of our life, if we are to be partakers of Him. To consider not just how Jesus would do something, but how Jesus would think. What attitude would Jesus take? What would Jesus not do? Just as the Hebrews receiving this letter were told to do, in their race of the life following Jesus, we too are to hold fast to our courage, but only by considering Jesus and trusting in Him relying on the Holy Spirit to help us as we ask Him.

This phrase “to consider” is perhaps the central theme of the book of Hebrews. We are to consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. Jesus was faithful to the purpose of His Coming to be among people. His purpose in coming to earth, as a mere man, was to die for sins and be raised up on the third day so as to be victorious over death and sin. This Jesus perfected our human nature in His life of simplicity, suffering, devotion and obedience. He now lives at the right hand of the Father in heaven, to communicate to us His life and blessedness through the indwelling Holy Spirit. We must therefore consider Jesus in everything we do, every thought we think and in every attitude. This is the aim of the writer to persuade these Hebrew Christians that if they knew Jesus to be the faithful, compassionate Almighty apostle and priest in Heaven, then they would find everything in Him that they needed for life. Moses couldn’t help them, but Jesus could! Moses had died, they could perhaps visit his tomb if they wanted to. But Jesus, well, Jesus’ tomb was empty! Jesus is alive! The life of these Hebrew Christians would be united with their faith, and united with the life of Jesus whom their faith would glorify God. To these Hebrew Christians their salvation was based on Jesus, but to renounce Jesus and go back to following Moses was apostasy. Moses couldn’t offer salvation because the Law was not meant as a means of salvation! But what about you? Are you trusting in this Jesus for salvation or are you even subconsciously relying on your own good works or something else?

That was what these believing Hebrews were to do – consider how vastly superior Jesus is to Moses. We also are to consider how superior Jesus is to all other things that would try to entangle us and allure us away with false promises.

 

Keep Persevering!

 

 

(Hebrews 3v7-12, 15-19)

And then after considering Jesus, these Hebrew Christians were to do something! They were to persevere in believing. The writer now warns these Hebrew believers against the sin of unbelief, which is the hardening of their hearts. The writer quoting from Psalm 95 reminds them of the way Israel rebelled against God in the desert. He warns them not to be like their forefathers, who did not trust fully in the Lord their God. From Psalm 95, he proceeds to remind them of their ancestors’ deeds of unbelief. The privilege of the house of God is in hearing God’s voice. By choosing not to listen to God’s voice, peoples’ hearts grew hard and cold. These words are of course written to believing Christian Hebrews, not unbelieving Jews, and are as appropriate for us today, as it was for them when they received it.

As the people of God today, the Church, we need to be ready to listen to God’s voice. As we see God working in us, our trust and belief in Him grows. If we do not believe in Him to help us, then of course our hearts will harden against him. As we grow and run the race, willingly sacrificing what needs to be sacrificed, we realize the glory and majesty of God, His holiness and perfection, His love and tenderness, and gladly listen to hear what He says to us, and willingly receive what He gives us.

When you pray, do you have your Bible open? When you read your Bible, do you do so prayerfully and considerately? Bible reading and prayer go together! Unbelief stops a person from holding fellowship with God. Our God is alive, not a dead idol on the shelf or in the bank. This church of Hebrew believers, for all their Christian profession and religious exercises, were in danger of falling away from God, due to their not believing totally in Him. God would not abandon them, but they would abandon God!

We need to take care, in case we also fall into unbelief. Unbelief and falling away act upon and react to each other. If we have any unbelief in our hearts tonight, then let us ask God to give us a heart that believes in Him so that we may not fall away from Him. And what is one of the main ways we can stop from falling away or letting others fall away into unbelief?

 

Keep encouraging!

 

 

Hebrews 3v12-14

So we keep on considering Jesus. We persevere in our believing in Him. Now thirdly, to show we are considering Jesus and are persevering in our believing Him, we are to encourage and be encouraged! In verse 12, we read, “See to it, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God”. This means, that we are not only to take care of our own hearts, but as verse 13 goes on to say, we are to encourage and ensure no one is in danger of falling away. We who are believers, have to make sure that each one of us is staying on the path that leads to life, that is, the race towards Jesus.

This group of Hebrew Christians were to help and encourage each other! And so are we! For us, maybe it is by phoning somebody you haven’t seen in a while or to phone somebody you get a random thought about! If we see a brother or sister that we know is starting to fall out of the race, we need to do all we can to stop them falling away. We need to encourage them, to continue considering Jesus and believing in Him. We all know of people who are new believers, full of joy and zeal for God, that end up falling back into unbelief, unable to hold fast to the end. To some degree, it is because the Church body has failed to encourage them to continue on in the race. It is our duty, and our daily responsibility to encourage people on in the race or the journey.

However, to encourage is not just these easy things. To encourage can also mean to rebuke, to correct in love. I look back at my tutor, during my first stint of Bible College back in the 1980s. His name was Ed. Ed the head we called him. We had weekly tutorials then. Every week he would get me to read a chapter of Knowing God by JI Packer and a chapter of Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. Then during our tutorial I would have to try and explain what I learnt from both those chapters. It was a slog at times I tell you. Sometimes I would get a clip round the ear for being stubborn or just being plain thick! But it gave me a good grounding for my Christian thinking and life of discipleship to Jesus.

Or I think back to my dear friend Rose, a kind and dear elderly lady from the church I used to attend back in the 80s. She would have us young adults back to her house overlooking the ocean for coffee after church on a Sunday evening. She would always be showing love, caring and encouraging to all people – ready to lift them when they were down and eager to cheer from the sidelines. She was also a tough cookie at times and if we got out of line, she would say so in no uncertain terms! Not so much an arm around the shoulder then but a good swift kick! Both methods of encouragement when required!

When we see somebody sinning or contemplating Therefore in considering Jesus, believe in Him and encourage others to do the same. That is the purpose of encouragement mentioned here. Let all of us give ourselves to the service of Jesus to watch over other people: let all the fresh grace and deeper knowledge of Jesus we see, be for the service of those around us. Where will you and I be spiritually next year, in 10 years’ time, in 25 years’ time? Will you be able to honestly say to yourself at that time, I have grown spiritually and haven’t fallen away?

If you would call yourself a Christian, and you are unsure where you are, then do this. Look back and remember what Jesus has done for you. Consider Him as you look back to your first profession of faith in Him. Consider that just as He died, you died in the waters of baptism. Consider that just as He rose to physical life, you rose from the waters of baptism and will also rise again when you physically die. Consider that just as Jesus will be glorified, so too will you be glorified before the Father – if you hold out until the end. Be assured of who you are – you are a child of the living God – hold out to the end. He has a firm grip on you, so maintain your grip on Him! Remember who you are!

The way to cope with the rigours of 21st century life as a Christian believer, is to keep considering, keep persevering and keep encouraging.

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Remember Who You Are – Colossians 3v1-4

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Colossians 3v1-4

“Remember Who You Are!”

3:1 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.

3:2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.

3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

3:4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.

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About nine years ago, I slipped into a coma on a Saturday evening. But that story is a bit of a bore and not really important. After a couple of days in hospital, I woke up and there was a face of a pretty woman peering down at me, smiling and asking “Do you remember who you are?” My response was “Of course I do!! But who are you, and what have you done with my wife”. And that is the same for us as Christians. If we are listening, we are constantly being reminded by God the Holy Spirit, of our status before God if we are His children. The Holy Spirit is always there behind us, reminding us, that we are now His children and not His enemy, and therefore to stop living as if we were His enemy. In these verses, Paul reminds us of our identity. This morning we are going to look at primarily our new identity and five facts about our Christian identity…

Doctrine and morality

What we believe, is intrinsically caught up with how we behave. When at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the last century, the church started questioning the central core of our beliefs about Jesus, that was the beginning of a long slide into moral decay. If the synods back then had stamped out doctrinal decay, then the synods today would not be discussing the moral decay within the church today and whether something is right or not. If the 5 facts before us in these 4 verses weren’t watered down by the church itself back then, and in some segments now, then perhaps we wouldn’t be asking the moral questions that are now being asked of us.

1. What are we to do with this Jesus if we claim to be his followers and in relationship with him?

These five things are fact. They are not hypothesis. They are not theory. They are not merely symbolic. They are existent facts about us. We are not marked as Christians because we go to Church regularly, though its a good idea if we do. We are not marked as Christians because we were baptized, though I hope that we are. We are not marked outwardly as Christians because we go to a Bible College, though its a good place to be, and none better than Moorlands. We are marked as Christians, not because of any outwardly visible mark, but here Paul tells us what marks us out as Christians.

a. We died with Christ (3a). Paul expounds this fully in his letter to the Romans. Jesus not only died for us, but we died with Him. Christ not only died for sin, but died unto sin to break its power. Through the work of the Holy Spirit we are in Christ. We died with Christ. We can conquer our old sinful nature if we want to. Our new identity is Christ and we have died with Him. You have died with Christ.

b. We are raised with Christ (1a). Just as we died with Christ, we are also raised with Christ. It is a fact that we are raised with Him and we rule with him, seated at the right hand of the Father. Our new identity is Christ and we have been raised with Him. You have been raised with Christ.

c. We live with Christ (4a). As Christian people, Jesus is our life and our eternal life, is Jesus. We are dead to sin, yet alive to Christ. Our new identity is Christ and we live with Him. You live with Christ.

d. We are hidden with Christ (3b). For those of you who like a good mystery, here is one for you. We are hidden with Him!! We no longer belong to this world, but we belong to Christ. We are hidden with him in heaven. That is not to say we are to neglect our earthly duties and responsibilities, but that our motives and strengths come from heaven. Our new identity is Christ and it is hidden with Him. You are hidden with Christ.

e. We will be glorified with Christ (4b). When Christ comes again, we will see Him face to face. When Christ comes again, He will take us home. We shall enter eternal glory. So, we will not be hidden with Christ perpetually because when Christ is revealed in glory, we too shall be revealed in glory. We already have some of this glory, but one day the full extent of this glorification will be revealed. Our new identity is Christ, and we will be glorified with Him when He comes to take us home… You will be glorified with Christ when He comes again in glory to take you home.

These five events… These five facts cover all three tenses in time – past, present and future… In the past, we died and were raised with Christ. In the present, we live with Christ and we are hidden with Him. In the future, when He comes again, we will be glorified with Him.

And because we share in Jesus’ death, resurrection and future glorification, we are to stop sinning. We are to stop thinking about ways in which to sin. This is what Paul says in verse 2. Our feet are to be in this world, but our minds are to be with Jesus, focusing on ways in which to serve Him, day in and day out. Look at the list of things we are to put to death in verses 5-10. That list is not conclusive. Don’t sin is the message, and yet we continue to do so…

I long for perfection. I yearn it. Even when as a child, being dragged up irreligiously, I longed to be perfect. Yet, every time I succumb to temptation, and therefore disobey God, and sin, I forget who I am. I forget my new identity. I forget that I am a child of the Living God. I forget that I have died with Christ. I forget that I have been raised with Him. I forget that I live in Him. I forget that I am hidden in Him. I forget that one day He is coming again and that I, Dave Roberts, will be glorified with Him. When we sin, it is as if I am telling the Holy Spirit to rack off and leave me alone… Instead we should be telling our three enemies to rack off… Tell old hairy legs Satan to depart from you. Tell the world to get lost. Tell your old nature, that it is dead and you have a new nature to which you seek to serve.

By keeping our minds and hearts set upon Him, talk to yourself. Talking to yourself is actually a sign of maturity. Tell yourself these five things to help you in your Christian life. You have died with Christ. You have been raised with Christ. You live with Christ. You are hidden in Christ. You will be glorified with Christ. Paul elsewhere in his other letters, says “Have you forgotten who you are?” Immerse yourself in the Bible.

Steinbeck – “obsolescent religion.” Travels with Charley.

Only use, if there is a great deal of time… Who is this Jesus we worship. Was he just a man? Was he just a god? Or was he both? Lets look together and find out.

2. Jesus – fully human.

That Jesus was a man is not really disputed. Scripture says that he was born of a woman which in itself tells us that prenatally he was nurtured and formed in the womb as any other male baby was and is. His genealogical line is given. He grew into manhood as any young Jewish boy did. With his humanity, he exhibited normal human emotions such as love, weeping, sadness, anger and anguish. Jesus ate and drank. He had a body and a soul. He undertook the baptism of John, just as others had done. Jesus grew tired, he slept & perspired. Religiously, he worshipped as a Jew. Jesus died, just as all mortal people do. He was human in every way that we are – physically, mentally and emotionally. The only exception is that he was sinless. His humanity is beyond question, though unlike us, he was sinless.

Jesus needed to be fully human for various reasons.

a. so that his death could sacrificially atone for us.

b. so that he can empathize and pray for us.

c. Jesus exhibited true and perfect humanity.

d. due to his perfect humanity, Jesus is to be our example to follow.

e. true human nature is good.

f. Jesus shows that while God is transcendent, He is not so far removed from us that He can’t interact with his creation.

3. Jesus’ deity

Jesus’ deity and the Incarnation are central and basic teaching of historic Christianity as it is central to God’s eternal plan of salvation. God’s salvation plan for humans involved triumphant victory over sin, death and the grave. However no person could be found that was eligible or capable to do this. Because of this, God stepped into human history, so that this victory could be achieved. This God-man would be fully human, so as to live every facet of humanity, including suffering and death. This God-man would also need to remain fully God, so as to defeat sin, death and the grave. Jesus, being sinless (Heb.4:15), was this God-man, consisting as he was of two complete natures: the God nature and the human nature.

Anselm the church father observed that God had formed Adam without mother and father and had formed Eve without mother and father but from a man. So he could certainly form Jesus, without the usual sexual reproduction process, from a woman.

Recapitulation

  • Remember who you are.
  • Remember your identity.
  • Remember you have died with Christ,
  • Remember you have been raised with Christ.
  • Remember you have new life in Christ – NOW!!.
  • Remember you are hidden with Christ – NOW!!.
  • Remember you will be glorified with Christ when He comes again.

Conclusion

Therefore let us conclude. We are to focus our minds on Him for heavenly reasons. We are to let heaven fill our thoughts. In another translation, verse 2 reads “habitually set your mind on things above”.

Jesus was fully-god and fully-man. It is this Jesus we claim to follow. Be assured of your identity. Remember who you are. Stop sinning and remember who you are – a child of the living God. Cast off all that hinders your Christian growth. Live for Him and make a difference in a world that is dying without knowledge of Him. Most of all, as a motivation to aspire to live a perfect life in honour of Him – remember who you are, and I don t mean just your name!! Remember….

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Who is he – 7. Messiah’s Leadership

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Messiah’s Leadership

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Zechariah 10:1 – 5

10:1 Ask of Yahweh rain in the spring time, Yahweh who makes storm clouds, and he gives rain showers to everyone for the plants in the field. 10:2 For the teraphim have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie; and they have told false dreams. They comfort in vain. Therefore they go their way like sheep. They are oppressed, because there is no shepherd. 10:3 My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the male goats; For Yahweh of Armies has visited his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as his majestic horse in the battle. 10:4 From him will come forth the cornerstone, from him the nail, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together. 10:5 They shall be as mighty men, treading down muddy streets in the battle; and they shall fight, because Yahweh is with them; and the riders on horses will be confounded.

During the time of Zechariah, the Temple was being rebuilt. The Temple was central to Jewish worship. But who would help give advice and solve the multitude of problems they were facing? Who cared about them? Well, Zechariah speaks into their situation with wise words. He has already likened the nation of Israel as being like sheep, and that God is their shepherd (Zechariah 9:16) “Yahweh their God will save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they are like the jewels of a crown, lifted on high over his land. “. Throughout Chapter 10, it is repeated again and again, that God will care for and bless them. But in order to receive the blessing and care, the nation of Israelites must seek, turn and follow.

Seek God

If the people need advice and help in times of trouble and need, the first place they should look, is to the Lord their God. They must seek and ask of Him! (10:1)! God can provide all things! He can control the weather, but these people need to stop being so independent, self-sufficient and start to rely on God and His infinite wisdom and resources.

Turn to God

In 10:2, Zechariah reminds the people of Israel, that following idols and false gods is foolishness. These idols are self-seeking, liars and deceivers. Israel needed to turn back to the One True Almighty God! Instead of following the glory of the Almighty God, they were turning to idols for worship, advice and listening to superstitious nonsense. And of course idols and false gods are mute! They cannot speak or give advice because they are not Gods at all!! The sin of idolatry particularly broke the second commandment! The people were to turn away from false gods and return to worship the One True Almighty God.

They were also to listen to the true prophets of God instead of the false prophets who deceived by speaking words they wanted to hear.

Follow Me

These sheep, the nation of Israel were to follow God. Instead of wandering around aimlessly, they were to follow and obey God Almighty. The Jewish leaders and teachers were supposed to be leading the nation in worship of Almighty God, but were not doing so. Hence God in 10:3 being enraged at those who were in positions of trust who were deceivers, liars and only looking out for their own interests. Ezekiel 34 expounds this out in much further detail! So who were the people of Israel to follow? They were to follow the coming Messiah. Not only was the Messiah a King, Prophet Servant and Disciple but He would also be a Shepherd: the Good Shepherd! From the lowliest tribe of Judah, will come this Good Shepherd “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, being small among the clans of Judah, out of you one will come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)

Messiah Cares

This Good Shepherd will be utterly reliable, responsible, faithful and being the sure foundation that the people of Israel need, particularly in a time of crisis. In 10:4 God will send this Good Shepherd to also be a cornerstone, nail or tent peg, battle bow and a source of all ruling authority.

Cornerstone: all ancient buildings needed a chief cornerstone to ensure a sure foundation so that the building could not fall down easily. It held two walls together. The imagery fits in well with the building of the Temple. If you want to continue worshipping God, then you must get the foundations right. The chief cornerstone of the building holds the building together. Not only that, it gives the building shape, strength and all other stones are adjusted by it.

Nail: Another translation is that of tent-peg. Just as the chief cornerstone holds the building together, so does a tent-peg ensure that the tent stays fastened down during storms! This Good Shepherd would ensure that everything is held together if they stick to Him.

Battle-bow: Probably referring back to 9:13, Zechariah now likens this Shepherd Messiah to a battle-bow! This Good Shepherd will fight to keep the wolves from harming His sheep. He will battle for them. This Good Shepherd will be brave, courageous and strong as he leads his people to victory!

How is Jesus this Messiah?

Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.” In other words, ask of God your heavenly Father and your needs will be supplied! That was how Jesus lived and obeyed, by being in constant communication with God the Father. That is how he could live a life of utter obedience to God, because He always asked, sought and knocked.

And Jesus is the Good Shepherd, hence Him saying in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Again in John 10:14-17 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I’m known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.”

Jesus is the Good Shepherd only through the sacrifice he must make for His sheep. Here Jesus is looking ahead to the sacrifice He makes on the Cross. His love for all of humanity compels Him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Just as all shepherds will endanger themselves for the safety of their sheep, so too will Jesus endure the pain and suffering of the Cross, so that people can be led into safety of God’s kingdom. It is in this role of the Good Shepherd, that Jesus exhibits true leadership, which is self-less and sacrificial. Ezekiel 34v11 tells of God searching out for his sheep among all nations, and this is fulfilled through Jesus. Through His perfect, obedient and voluntary sacrifice on the Cross, not only will salvation be available to the Jews but also to those of other nations.

And Jesus is willing to fight for His people! He gives spiritual armour for all those who follow Him to wear. Christians are in a spiritual battle reminds Paul in Ephesians 6, and as the Good Shepherd, Jesus will fight and battle for us through His indwelling Holy Spirit! For as the Bible says in 1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.

Jesus Christ is, as Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:8, the Cornerstone of faith – referring back to Isaiah 8:14. Jesus Christ is the dependable, sure foundation that all faith is to be ground upon. All Christians are living stones, but should be living on the dependability of Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone alone! It is only Him, who can give direction, assurance and be relied upon. It is Him that calls all people everywhere to seek for, turn to and follow obediently.

Jesus Christ, Servant King, Servant Prophet, Servant Disciple, Servant Shepherd. Follow Him as the great leader He is and victory is assured! Whatever you are struggling with today, turn it over to God and ask for His help! He has promised to help! Remember that the battle belongs to the Lord! Amen! Just as Jesus said to Peter in John 21:19 “Follow Me!”, so Jesus calls all those willing to follow Him, to follow Him for life. Follow and be led by Him and Him alone, regardless of what and where that might be.

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BAM – Revelation

New Testament

Book of Revelation

Key Verses

Revelation 1:19 -Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will happen hereafter;

Revelation 19:11 – I saw the heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True. In righteousness he judges and makes war. Revelation 19:13 He is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood. His name is called “The Word of God.” Revelation 19:16 He has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Summary

The Apostle John writes about the prophetic program, which centres on Christ and extends from John’s day until the enthronement of Christ as the Father’s king in the millennium and in eternity. The book reveals what John has seen – Jesus Christ’s glories; the things which are – regarding the seven churches referred to by name; and the things that will be: tribulation, second advent, millennium, and eternity

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BAM – Jude

New Testament

Book of Jude

Key Verses

Jude 3-4 – Beloved, while I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I was constrained to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For there are certain men who crept in secretly, even those who were long ago written about for this condemnation: ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into indecency, and denying our only Master, God, and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Summary

Jude writes warning against apostasy. He urges his readers to recognize the problem and fight for the faith. In doing so, he presents the strategy for when doctrinal conflict occurs. This strategy includes growth in doctrine, prayer, a loyal love for God, eagerly awaiting eternity, and helping other believers that are influenced by apostasy. He closes with a statement of confidence and of praise to God.

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BAM – 3 John

New Testament

Book of 3 John

Key Verses

3 John 3-4 -For I rejoiced greatly, when brothers came and testified about your truth, even as you walk in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth.

3 John 11-12 – 12Beloved, don’t imitate that which is evil, but that which is good. He who does good is of God. He who does evil hasn’t seen God. Demetrius has the testimony of all, and of the truth itself; yes, we also testify, and you know that our testimony is true. 

Summary

John writes a personal letter to Gaius about his faithful response to Jesus as shown by his treatment of other believers,. In doing so, Gaius exhibits faithfulness, generosity and love. He condemns Diotrephes for being faithless, arrogant and contrary, whilst commending Demetrius. . Finally John writes to inform Gaius that he hopes to travel and meet him.

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BAM – 2 John

New Testament

Book of 2 John

Key Verses

2 John 8-11 – Watch yourselves, that we don’t lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and doesn’t remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn’t have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you, and doesn’t bring this teaching, don’t receive him into your house, and don’t welcome him, for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.

Summary

John writes to remind this lady and her children that their lives should be an expression of the Word of God in all areas. This expression is called love or loving one another. The believers are to continue loving, abiding in God’s Commandments and to pay no heed to the false teachers who deny Jesus’ incarnation.

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