“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 23:1
God was preparing to destroy Judah because of the sins of the people. He gave many warnings that it would happen. Even though this was God’s plan, there were many of the leaders of the temple that were trying to say something different. They had their own priests and prophets saying that God would bring about peace. They were also leading the people into the sin of following false gods. The people were being destroyed and scattered because of the way they were being led.
God gives them a warning that He would punish them for doing this. As He would destroy them, He would also bring out a remnant of the people, who they were leading wrong, to restore and build up again.
Shepherds are the ones who are supposed to lead the sheep to the best food and water. They are to protect them from the enemy. If the slack off on any of their duties, the sheep will scatter and be destroyed.
Ministers, preachers, and evangelists are always considered the shepherds or leaders of the people in the church. Although this is true, that does not mean that other people are not shepherds also. Many people, who are not preachers, also are leaders of other people. They are the ones who lead and guide some people in the walk in this life. Many are parents, while others are teachers, or mentors, or bosses of others.
People today are teaching or leading others down paths of sin that are against God. False teachings are being taught in the churches, as though it is God’s word. Prophecies are being made that God will overlook sinful acts, because of His great love. Prayers for God’s peace are being made, without a call to repentance from sin. Adultery, drunkenness, lying, cheating, gossiping, stealing, jealousy, hatred, oppression, racism, and many other sins are accepted in the church as acceptable. These are just a few ways of destroying and scattering God’s sheep. God will hold them accountable.
As a believer, you must correctly speak God’s word. Speak the truth in love at all times. Do not allow yourself to be guilty of destroying His sheep, because you spoke of God’s word in a false way. Seek God’s direction in His word as you live it and lead others with it.
I pray today that you will know God’s word in truth; that you will speak God’s word in truth; that you will not be guilty of leading others wrong; and that God will strengthen you to live in righteousness for Him.
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” Romans 16:17
As Paul is finishing up his letter to the Romans, he gives a final warning to them. He tells them that there will be people who will attempt to cause division and place obstacles in their way. He then tells the people to stay away from such people.
The path every believer is on is Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Any other path is not correct.
Anyplace that you go, whether work, church, school, or anywhere else, there is usually someone who likes to create division. That person will spread bad rumors about the leader, or constantly argue with a different opinion, or talk about a different path to everyone refusing to follow the path of the leader. The classic example in a church is the decision of the color of the new carpet.
Others will always put obstacles in the path. Some will always find a reason not to do something that is God’s desire, or they will withhold their money to prevent it from happening. It is easy to find reasons why something will not happen when you take your eyes off of God who makes all things possible.
Along with this, there will be people who are teaching things that God’s word does not say. Yes, God’s word says that He loves everyone, but that does not mean He loves their actions and lifestyles. Some will cause division and put obstacles in the way with this type of teaching.
Paul is telling you to watch out for these types of people. On the surface they may look and sound good, but what they teach does not line up with the path Jesus has all believers on. Do not fall for their traps and false teachings. You are to stay away from them. Flee all evil. Do not allow yourself to be led astray.
Keep your eyes on Jesus and His Words. His Word will be a light to your path. The Holy Spirit will guide your every step.
I pray today that you will know the path God has for you; that you will see when others are creating a division; that God will help you see the obstacles the enemy puts in your way; that God will help you flee false teaching; and that you will be led by the Holy Spirit on the path God has for you.
“With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Acts 2:40
Right after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and other people in the upper room, things started to happen. Those that received the Holy Spirit started telling others about Jesus. Peter gets some extreme boldness to tell the people about Jesus. He points out that it was the people who killed Jesus, but it was God’s will that it should happen. He also points out that Jesus rose from the dead. In this verse it states that he kept on pleading with the people to be saved.
Peter saw the people as lost and heading to hell. He also saw them with the eyes and heart of God. He did not want any of them to be lost for eternity in hell.
Very often believers will, if they witness at all, will only tell others about Jesus a little bit. It will be mentioned only in passing.
Although there is nothing wrong in this, there does not seem to be any urgency in getting saved. The importance of being saved is not really presented.
No person knows how long he will live or how long someone else may live. Doctors cannot even get diagnosis right on patients with a deadly illness. All any person has is today, right now. There is no guarantee of the next moment.
Every believer must keep this in mind. When you have a chance to tell someone else about Jesus, look at it as though it may be that person’s last chance to be saved on this earth.
When Peter talked with the people he was pleading with them. This was almost to the point of begging the people to be saved. He used many more words than what was recorded to encourage them to be saved.
Are you willing to tell others about Jesus? Do you see them as lost and heading straight to hell? Do you realize you know the solution for them? How much are you going to tell them?
I pray today that you will see the lost as Jesus does; that God will fill you with His Holy Spirit to guide you; that you will be filled with the boldness of Jesus to tell others about Him; that you will plead with others to be saved; and that Jesus will draw many to Him through you.
“All of this I have told you so that you will not fall away.” John 16:1
Jesus has been telling the disciples about His having to die and go away. He also tells them about how the world will hate them and persecute them. The things He is telling them are not all of a beautiful rosy picture perfect world, they are of struggles and hard times that are coming. His whole purpose for telling them was so that they will not fall away when it comes.
People love to talk about the love of God and the blessings God provides. They will also talk about the power of God and His great ability to heal and rescue people and defeat the enemy. When they look at just these aspects of God and what Jesus said, things look very great. It looks like everything will go great and smooth, that there will be many blessings and God’s favor.
Yet, that is not what Jesus is saying. He tells you that there will be problems and trouble. In the very next verse Jesus states that there will come a time when people will think they are serving God by killing believers.
Jesus is promising trouble. If you forget to look at that, you may, like many others, fall away from Jesus when those troubles come.
When hardship comes it is easy to think that maybe you failed God and are getting punished, or that maybe believing in God is not the real truth and that maybe the world is right after all.
You are warned by Jesus before things happen so that you will not fall away. Jesus told you it would be tough, so that you do not question what is happening when it happens. These things are to build your faith and trust in God.
Who is in control? God. Do you really believe that? When things go bad or from bad to worse, do you still believe that?
Do not give up on God. Do not lose your faith in Him. Everything that happens is happening for a purpose to build you more like Jesus and to bring others to Jesus. Use those bad things as a testimony for Jesus. Do not let them cause you to fall away.
I pray today that you will trust Jesus in the bad times; that you will rely upon the power of Jesus; that you will not doubt Jesus; and that you will be made more like Jesus through all you go through in life.
“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.” Mark 13:9
Jesus was telling the disciples that the temple would be destroyed. The disciples asked when this would be. He told them to watch the signs, that things would get really bad.
Now, He tells them to be on their guard. They would be handed over to the local authorities for abuse. Not only would the local authorities punish them, but they would also get abused in the synagogues–the religious places. The place that should be a place of refuge and safety would become a place of abuse.
All of these things would happen because of their belief in Jesus and to give them a chance to be a witness to the world.
How does getting put in prison or abused give you a chance to be a witness? These events give you a chance to stand strong and true for Jesus. It allows you to make the statement as to why you are willing to go through the harsh treatment.
In many parts of the world it is acceptable to treat Christians harshly. Right now, as a whole, you do not see this level of harsh treatment of believers in America, but it is getting more rough all the time.
Teachers in schools cannot talk about Jesus. In the workplaces you cannot witness. You cannot speak out against sin without it being a hate crime.
Will you bend to the desires of the world and not be a witness for Jesus?
Will you choose to be silent?
Or will you choose to be His witness no matter what it means?
Jesus chose to die on a cross in full public humiliation and extreme torture for you. What are you willing to do for Him?
Be on your guard and be ready to be His witness. Do not fear the torture, but embrace what God is giving you. He is giving you an opportunity to be His witness. Will you take it?
I pray today that God will strengthen you in your walk with Him; that God will make you more like Jesus; that God will reveal ways you can be His witness; that God will give you the words to speak; and that God will build His kingdom through you.
“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17-18
Peter ends this letter with the reminder that you have been forewarned of what is to come. He talked about the false prophets and teachers that will come and of the sudden return of Jesus with the destruction of the world.
In knowing all of this information you are told to be on your guard. What are you to be on your guard against? It is the false teachings that will be taught around you. It is the pattern of living that the lawless people will live. The world will live as though free, while yet in bondage to sin. Do not allow yourself to slip into that lifestyle.
To protect yourself in this you are told to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Jesus first chose to save you, before you wanted to be saved. All you had to do was accept that salvation. You have His favor. In Christ you have salvation and become the person God wants you to be and do the things God wants you to do. Without Christ you can do nothing of value.
Knowledge of Jesus Christ tells you who He is, what He desires and how He acts and speaks. Read the Bible to see who Jesus is and what He is like. You are to be like Christ Jesus in all that you do. Remember that Jesus only did and said what He saw His Father (God) saying and doing. You must act and speak in the same way. If you act and speak in the way Jesus did, you will also be doing what God the Father is doing.
Living this way will help you be on guard against false teachings. It will keep you on the straight and narrow path to God. Do not allow yourself to be swayed to the right or left of the path God has you on.
All of this way of living is for His glory. It is not to make you look good or earn you points with God. Nothing you can do will earn you points with God. Your salvation is only in believing in Jesus and following Him. For this very reason He is the one to receive all the glory.
I pray today that God will reveal more of His grace to you; that you will grow in the knowledge of Jesus; that you will not be carried away by false teachings; and that God will receive all the glory.