Thursday, March 12, 2015
Word Given this Morning
JUDGMENT COMING TO HOUSE OF GOD
Prophecy Against the Shepherds of Israel
34 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. 6 My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.
The Lord God Will Seek Them Out
11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.[a] I will feed them in justice.
17 “As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? 19 And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
20 “Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22 I will rescue[b] my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.
The Lord‘s Covenant of Peace
25 “I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.26 And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. 27 And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them. They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. 29 And I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. 30 And they shall know that I am the Lord their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord God. 31 And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord God.”
Prayer of Repentance as a Shepherd/Pastor
There are many problems with being a pastor. It is a difficult job, with amazing levels of stress. Although genetics and eating habits have played a part, my own hair loss, hair graying and weight gain in the last few years have been exacerbated by the stress I’ve had as a pastor. I can see why the drop out rate for pastors is so high and why the Bible urges “not many of you” to do this.
On many levels I feel called to be a pastor, and on many levels I feel like I’ve chosen this as a career path. Some days I’ve pastored because I love Jesus and people, and other days I’ve pastored because it’s my career and I was getting a paycheck. Sometimes I wanted out and sometimes my motivations for wanting to be a pastor have more to do with finances than they do with love for those in my care. It’s the reality of the position.
One of the problems with being a pastor is that when you make a mistake you hurt people. There is no two ways around this. You will either be the most loved or the most hated person in the room. For me, I know people that love me and trust me as a pastor and then I know those who wouldn’t trust me to watch their dog for the weekend even if they hated their dog. I have people I’ve helped and people I’ve hurt; some of them I’ve hurt deeply.
I know there are Bible verses that tell me that I am held to a higher standard and harsher judgment for how I treat those in my care. My job as a pastor is to know, lead, feed and protect the flock from all sorts of dangers. In some ways, by God’s grace, I’ve had success in all of these areas. In all ways I need God’s grace to cover the huge mistakes I’ve made.
I know I have sinned in the following ways; however, I don’t know all those whom I’ve sinned against. As you read this list, see if I’ve sinned against you in any of these or other ways.
Sin of passivity. I have allowed people to continue in their sin when Jesus has asked me to confront. I cower out of fear of man, just wanting to be liked or well thought of. There have also been times when I cared more about my own comfort than about other people’s holiness, and being passive was my sinful way of dealing with it.
Sin of aggression. This sin is one that I am deeply aware of, yet it’s left a field of carnage that I’m scared to actually see. My bold words and actions have gotten me into trouble a lot over the years, and when you combine my bold and some-times harsh words with the level of authority that God has given the position I’m in, it makes it especially hard to deal with. I’ve oftentimes sworn to make my point clearer. Oftentimes I’ve told people the sins that I see so clearly in their life when I should have led them in gentleness and allowed the Holy Spirit to reveal it to them. I’ve raised my voice out of frustration. I’ve had body language that condemned people for even talking to me. I lean towards aggression, and although I strive for gentleness I do not always meet the mark of that. There are those who come to mind even as I write this, and it brings tears to my eyes knowing that there are so many of you.
Sin of control. I’ve had an overestimation of my authority as a pastor. I’ve used the title at times to tell people what to do as if I had some biblical grounds for this. I’ve instructed people as if I’m the final voice in their life. I’ve held on too tightly to what is not mine and this is control. Some of you have seen me do this. Some of you may have only wondered if I was trying to do this, but I have done this and I regret it.
I want to be in ministry for a long time to come. I want to do so with health and humility, meeting the biblical qualifications for an elder. If you believe I’m unqualified to be a elder, I’d love to apologize to you and ask for your forgiveness. By God’s grace maybe there will be healing for both of us and you can help reveal some blind spots that I have in my life. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and start a discussion with me. I don’t want to justify my mistakes to you; I want to repent. I want to make amends for hurts that I’ve caused in my first years of ministry. I want God’s grace for both of us. If Jesus gave His life for you and I, I’m hoping this isn’t too much to ask