Daily Archives: September 15, 2018

September 15: The Pain of Idolatry

Micah 1:1–3:12; Acts 13:13–14:7; Job 22:14–30

Idolatry causes pain. If this truth were present in our minds each time we placed something before God, we would make different decisions. Micah’s account of the sins of Samaria makes this fact painfully and dramatically clear:

“So I [Yahweh] will make Samaria as a heap of rubble in the field, a place for planting a vineyard. And I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations. Then all her idols will be broken in pieces, and all her prostitution wages will be burned in the fire, and all her idols I will make a desolation. For from the wage of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the wage of a prostitute they will return. On account of this I will lament and wail. I will go about barefoot and naked. I will make a lamentation like the jackals, and a mourning ceremony like the ostriches” (Mic 1:6–8).

Throughout this section, God and the prophet’s voices intermingle, a common occurrence in prophetic literature. This device creates a sense of empathy, both for God’s perspective on idolatry and for the people’s pain as the consequences of their idolatry bear down on them. Micah’s position is one we should emulate. When we understand what God feels, we begin to see the world from His perspective. When we feel what others feel, we’re able to meet their needs and learn to love them as fully and radically as God loves us.

Micah’s depiction of idolatry—how God views it and what it does to us—should be a wake-up call. When God takes second place in our lives, we inflict pain on Him, ourselves, and others. We shove Him out of His rightful place and thus move ourselves out of relationship with Him. But when He is the focus of our lives, we have an opportunity to empathize with others and to love them—and our idols dissipate like smoke.

How are you combating idolatry in your life? How are you showing love to people who love idols?

John D. Barry[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

September 15 Developing Practical Righteousness

“Stand firm therefore … having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph. 6:14).

✧✧✧

Practical righteousness is moment-by-moment obedience to God.

We’ve seen the importance of putting on the breastplate of righteousness as protection against Satan’s attempts to pervert your thinking and emotions. But Scripture speaks of three kinds of righteousness: self-righteousness, imputed righteousness, and practical righteousness. Which did Paul have in mind in Ephesians 6:14?

Paul wasn’t speaking of self-righteousness because that is what the breastplate of righteousness is designed to protect you from. Self-righteousness deceives a person into thinking, “I can please God and reach Heaven on my own merit.” But Isaiah said, “All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isa. 64:6). Far from getting you to Heaven, self-righteousness will condemn you to eternal Hell because it rejects the merits of Christ’s atonement.

Similarly, Paul wasn’t speaking of imputed righteousness—the righteousness of Christ granted to every believer at the moment of salvation. This is also called “positional righteousness” because it results from your position or standing in Christ. Second Corinthians 5:21 says that God made Christ, “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Every believer is clothed in the garment of Christ’s righteousness. You don’t put that on. It’s already yours in Christ.

Only practical righteousness remains—that which flows from obedience to God’s Word. Although in God’s eyes you are righteous in Christ, you must also pursue righteous behavior. In other words, your practice should match your position. That’s what Paul meant when he said, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). John added that “the one who says he abides in [Christ] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

As you learn to live in obedience to God’s Word, you’ll be protected by the breastplate of righteousness.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask the Spirit to help you search your heart and to reveal any self-righteous attitudes that might be making you vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Confess them, and then praise Christ for the true righteousness that is yours in Him.

For Further Study: Read Romans 3:10–23. What kind of righteousness did Paul describe here?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 271). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Should Christians Listen to Secular Music?

Should Christians listen to secular music? From our 2017 National Conference, W. Robert Godfrey, Michael Horton, Stephen Nichols, and Derek Thomas weigh in on this question. When you have biblical and theological questions, just Ask.Ligonier.org.

Source: Should Christians Listen to Secular Music?

Militants Brought Chlorine Gas to Idlib to Stage Chemical Attack – Russian MoD

Terrorists from the Tahrir al-Sham group transported several barrels of chlorine gas to the village of Basankul, in Syria’s province of Idlib, to stage a false-flag chemical attack, according to a Saturday statement from the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation.

Source: Militants Brought Chlorine Gas to Idlib to Stage Chemical Attack – Russian MoD

‘Chlorine delivered’: Idlib militants ‘readying false flag attack’ in Syrian village – Russian MoD

Militants in Syria’s Idlib have transported several canisters containing chlorine to the village of Bsanqul, apparently preparing to stage a false flag chemical attack, the Russian Defense Ministry has said.

Source: ‘Chlorine delivered’: Idlib militants ‘readying false flag attack’ in Syrian village – Russian MoD

Air Strikes Target Damascus: Syrian Officials Say “Israeli Missile Attack” Thwarted

Syrian state media has just confirmed that several Israeli airstrikes targeted Damascus international airport, and that Syrian air defenses have been activated, attempting to shoot down the incoming missiles.

Various journalists in the region are also reporting that locals in Damascus reported hearing multiple loud explosions during the Saturday evening hours.

Syrian official state-run SANA posted this update: “Syrian air defenses confront Israeli missile attack on Damascus International Airport, shooting down a number of enemy missiles.”

Damascus sources say the attack has been thwarted, with missile defense systems intercepting several Israeli missiles according to early unconfirmed reports.

Pro-government media accounts have posted early unconfirmed video that appears to show a missile intercept of an incoming projectile near Damascus International Airport.

Developing…

Source: Air Strikes Target Damascus: Syrian Officials Say “Israeli Missile Attack” Thwarted

Obama HUMILIATED After Indisputable Evidence Proves He Has NOTHING to do With Trump’s Economy

Obama is out on the campaign trail, embarrassing himself, trying to rewrite history – but, not so fast.

Let’s face it – Obama’s policies only benefited big business, urban interests, big banks, and foreign interests, like China, who happily snatched up a bunch of real estate in our cities

In truth, the Obama economy was about federal jobs and part-time burger flipping jobs.

His policies and regulations suffocated the working class and suffocated the heartland.

Now, however, Trump’s economic policies are starting to breathe life back into the middle class.

Thanks to President Trump, we now have good full-time jobs with living wages and benefits, in manufacturing and related sectors.

These are jobs all across the country…..not elite jobs and federal jobs in certain progressive areas, like Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

Furthermore, employers have to compete to get workers.

After 8 years of suffocating under Obama, the American middle class can finally breathe again.

Americans can finally breathe again because of Trump’s America First agenda.

Daily Beast

The collapse of Lehman Brothers 10 years ago today began the financial crisis that crippled and even killed for some the American dream as we had known it. Donald Trump might be starting to change that, at least for Americans who aren’t determined to remain in our bluest and priciest cities.

Overall an estimated nine million jobs and nearly $20 trillion in household wealth were lost. Job levels finally recovered but most of those who suffered from the Great Recession—and particularly current and former middle-income homeowners—did not see their wealth restored when the economy turned around.

Perhaps worst of all, the recession undermined our traditional belief in a better day ahead. Just one in five Americans is confident that life for today’s children will turn out better than it did for their parents, according to a 2014 survey conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.Nearly three in five Americans expect today’s children to be worse off, according to a 2017 Pew survey.

Some of this pain was self-inflicted, to be sure, as buyers seeking to catch up and get ahead of the market—they thought prices would just keep rising—drove up the home-ownership rate with dodgy loans many could not afford to repay. After approaching 70 percent, the rate is now back in the 63-to-65-percent range of the quarter-century preceding the housing bubble.

But there are two key reasons that most Americans still haven’t recovered their wealth or position from a decade earlier, and that most young adults find themselves starting the race far behind: slow wage growth across the nation and increasingly unaffordable housing prices in the most expensive , and often most desired markets.

Wages for working and middle class people, at least until this year, have stagnated. Overall, only upper-income households have recovered financially from the Great Recession, while the vast majority of middle-income and lower-income households have yet to recover their pre-recession wealth, according to Pew.

In the meantime, housings costs have kept climbing, driven by conscious but misguided policies, particularly in coastal states, that have restricting new building. National Association of Realtors second quarter data shows median house prices in many deep blue enclaves areas have shot past their 2008 bubble peaks. In Portland, Seattle and San Francisco, prices are up 30 percent over the decade. In Denver, prices are up more than 80 percent. They have risen 60 percent in San Jose, where the median price for houses is now a staggering $1.4 million.

Source: Obama HUMILIATED After Indisputable Evidence Proves He Has NOTHING to do With Trump’s Economy

SEPTEMBER 15 HUMILITY—AND WORSHIP

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God.

1 Peter 5:6

Real worship is, among other things, a feeling about the Lord God! It is in our hearts, and we must be willing to express it in an appropriate manner.

We can express our worship to God in many ways. But if we love the Lord and are led by His Holy Spirit, our worship will always bring a delighted sense of admiring awe and a sincere humility on our part.

There must be humility in the heart of the person who would worship God in spirit and in truth. So, the proud and lofty man or woman cannot worship God anymore acceptably than can the proud devil himself!

Unfortunately, many of us are strictly “Santa Claus Christians.” We need to go on from an elementary kind of love, in which we think of God as putting up a kind of Christmas tree and putting all our gifts underneath. We need, rather, to be delighted in the presence of utter, infinite excellence!

Such worship will have the ingredient of fascination, the personality captured by the Presence of God!

Father, I pray for many of our churches today that think of worship as a mode of entertainment. O God, help these churches to stop focusing on their own pleasures and lead them to delight in You alone.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 09/15/2018

After Chinese Officials Shut Down Chengdu House Church, Members Take the Gospel to the Streets   Sep 11, 2018 08:22 pm

CHENGDU, China — Members of a house church in China recently took the gospel to the streets after the government shut down their unregistered church, video footage reveals. A video shared on Sunday by Christopher Gregory of the organization China Missions shows Christians gathering in the public park to sing, preach and pray. Sometimes they walk the sidewalks,…

Continue reading the story


Christian Girl Attacked for Refusing to Marry Muslim, Convert to Islam   Sep 09, 2018 02:53 pm

Photo Credit: Furquanlw/Wikipedia (Evangelical Focus) — A 18-year-old Christian girl from Karachi, Pakistan almost died when her Muslim friend tried to kill her because she refused to marry him and convert to Islam. Binish Paul, a high school student, was being stalked by a Muslim man who was her friend, and when she said no to his petition, he got angry….

Continue reading the story


Judge Strikes Down Texas Law Requiring Burial, Cremation of Aborted Babies as ‘Burden’ on ‘Right’ to Abortion   Sep 11, 2018 02:00 pm

AUSTIN, Texas — A Hawaiian federal judge that was asked in 2013 to assist with the caseload in Texas by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has struck down a Texas law that would require preborn babies killed at abortion facilities to be buried or cremated instead of being discarded as medical waste. Referring to the murdered unborn as only “potential…

Continue reading the story


New Mexico Late-Term Abortion Facility Sued After Mother Dies Along With Her Baby   Sep 12, 2018 07:52 pm

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico abortion facility that offers abortions throughout all three trimesters has been sued by the family of a woman who obtained a late-term abortion last year and died two days later from an infection and sepsis. According to the legal challenge, Keisha Atkins, 23, had been referred by the University of New Mexico Hospital to…

Continue reading the story


Canadian Group to Indoctrinate Children on ‘Gender Identity’ With Videos Featuring Girl Puppet Who Identifies as Boy   Sep 10, 2018 08:04 pm

A Canadian group has released several short videos for teachers and parents featuring a girl puppet who identifies as a boy, as well as “social and emotional guides,” in an effort to “help children with the process of identity affirmation.” The Jasmin Roy Sophie Desmarais Foundation, which focuses on providing resources to address bullying and discrimination in…

Continue reading the story


Appeals Court Reluctantly Upholds Ruling Ordering Removal of Florida Cross, Calls for Own Decision to Be Overturned   Sep 12, 2018 12:59 pm

Photo Credit: Freedom From Religion Foundation PENSACOLA, Fla. — A panel with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling ordering the removal of a cross from a public park in Florida, stating that they were “bound by existing circuit precedent.” Two of the three judges said they were uncomfortable with the result and consequently called upon the the…

Continue reading the story


School Board Decides to Fight Lawsuit After Initially Ordering Students to Paint Over Christian Logo on Football Field   Sep 13, 2018 03:29 pm

Photo Credit: Christ Fit Gym/Facebook SHREVEPORT, La. — A school board in Louisiana has unanimously voted to fight a lawsuit filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State after it initially instructed the field crew to spray paint over a paid advertisement on the Benton High School football field that includes a Scripture citation and a…

Continue reading the story


Judge Thwarts South Carolina Governor’s Order Ending Medicaid Funding to Planned Parenthood   Sep 10, 2018 02:26 pm

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A federal judge appointed to the bench by then-President Barack Obama has issued a preliminary injunction thwarting an order from the governor of South Carolina that directed the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DDHS) to deem abortion facilities as being “unqualified to provide family planning services” and to cancel their…

Continue reading the story


‘God Showed Them They Could Be Washed and Cleansed’: African Orphans Thrive in Christ Despite Traumatic Past   Sep 11, 2018 03:32 pm

East Africa (Mission Network News) — Reports released this week detail the rescue of 85 minors from forced labor in Sudan. According to authorities, the minors came from several African nations: Chad, Eritrea, Niger, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. Human trafficking poses a major threat to Africa’s 52 million orphans. With no adult…

Continue reading the story


Closure of Large Church in Beijing Deepens Shadow on Religious Freedom in China   Sep 12, 2018 03:10 pm

(Morning Star News) – The growing crack-down on unofficial churches in China deepened on Sunday (Sept. 9) when authorities closed one of the largest churches in Beijing, according to reports. The Beijing Chaoyang District Civil Affairs Bureau informed Zion Church that it was “legally banned” for organizing events without registering as an official Three-Self…

Continue reading the story

White Helmets Stage Attacks to Give Pretext to US to Attack Syria – Prof

Haaretz reported that Turkey has dispatched troops to Idlib, Syria to reinforce its presence in the province. The reinforcements come despite the Turkish defense minister’s recent warnings against a military solution.

Source: White Helmets Stage Attacks to Give Pretext to US to Attack Syria – Prof

The “Promise of Socialism” Totally Exposed as a Fraud by 13 Pictures

Socialism has proven itself to be a failed system that produces shared misery for the masses and untold luxury and perks for the ruling class.

We’ve seen this time and time again, over and over.

The most recent example is Venezuela whose lesson should scare most people.

Yet for some reason Democrats want to bring this failed system to our country.

Here are 13 pictures that reveal everything anyone REALLY needs to know about Socialism:

And finally…

Source: The “Promise of Socialism” Totally Exposed as a Fraud by 13 Pictures

CRASH: CNN Ratings Down 41 Percent From Last Year – Now Trails Nickelodeon In Basic Cable — The Gateway Pundit

CNN is in a virtual free-fall in cable news ratings. The far left network has seen over 40 percent of its ratings in prime-time basic cable vanish over the last year and even trails Nickelodeon at this point. Their decision to run to the left of MSNBC, combined with a line-up of flippant Trump-hating hosts has done massive damage to their brand.

Breitbart reports:

CNN Ratings Down 41 Percent from Last Year

Last week, CNN dropped a full 41 percent in the daytime TV ratings and fell 36 percent in primetime compared to the same week last year.

AdWeek reports, “CNN ranked No. 6 across basic cable in total prime time viewers, and No. 5 in total day this past week. Despite the top 10 finishes, the network was -36 percent in prime time viewers, and -41 percent in total day viewers vs. the same week last year.”

Not only did CNN see a devastating drop from last year’s ratings, the network was once again bested by its competitors. Fox News came in first place with during the day, while MSNBC came in second.

In basic cable, CNN was in fifth behind ESPN and Nickelodeon. During prime time, CNN slid down to sixth place while ESPN came in first. Fox News, MSNBC, HGTV, and the USA network all defeated CNN.

Here are last week’s Basic Cable ratings from TV Newser:

Basic Cable Top 10 – Total Day (Total Viewers)

1. Fox News (1,426,000)
2. MSNBC (1,145,000)
3. ESPN (1,023,000)
4. Nickelodeon (833,000)
5. CNN (789,000)
6. HGTV (750,000)
7. Investigation Discovery (706,000)
8. Hallmark Channel (628,000)
9. USA (590,000)
10. History (554,000)

Sad, but hardly surprising.

via CRASH: CNN Ratings Down 41 Percent From Last Year – Now Trails Nickelodeon In Basic Cable — The Gateway Pundit

Chelsea Clinton Calls Abortion “Social Justice Issue,” Says It’s Christian Duty — Pulpit & Pen

Chelsea Clinton, daughter of President Bill Clinton and former Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, recently argued that ending abortion is unchristian. Speaking on the radio program, “Signal Boost,” which airs on Sirius Radio, Clinton spoke of the necessity of abortion-on-demand and explained that her Christian faith motivates her to keep infanticide “safe” and “legal.“

When I think about all of the statistics that are painful of what women are confronting today in our country, and what even more women confronted pre-Roe and how many women died and how many more women were maimed because of unsafe abortion practices, we just can’t go back to that.

Of course, if a woman is killed or maimed while in the act of murdering her infant, she fully deserves it. Basic notions of justice aside, Clinton continued:

And also, I’m sure that this will unleash another wave of hate in my direction, but as a deeply religious person, it’s also un-Christian to me.

Clinton, the “deeply religious person,” said that she had been compared to “slave owners and Nazis in recent months” for her abortion advocacy. This, of course, is a highly unfair comparison. Abortion has killed way more ethnic minorities than slavery and the Holocaust combined.

Clinton also called abortion, “A deeply social justice issue.” You can listen to the audio below.

Clinton says at the 1:24 mark, “Those of us who are privileged because of the color of our skin, religion, our family’s income…have a particular responsibility to right now to exploit our privilege to shine a light on how the issue of reproductive health access is not just about women’s choices and family issues, it is deeply a social justice issue…”

Evangelical Christians like Russell Moore, Tim Keller, Matt Chandler, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, and Thabiti Anyabwile (the latter endorsed Hillary Clinton for President in his Gospel Coalition sub-blog) are all fighting hard for the term, Social Justice. Other believers, like John MacArthur, Tom Ascol, Voddie Baucham, Douglas Wilson and James White have supported The Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, which seeks to warn Christians that “Social Justice” is not part and parcel with the Gospel.

One side stands with Chelsea Clinton. The other side doesn’t.

 

via Chelsea Clinton Calls Abortion “Social Justice Issue,” Says It’s Christian Duty — Pulpit & Pen

Saturday Sampler: September 9 — September 15

The Outspoken TULIP

Cinderella Sampler

In a guest post for Pyromaniacs, Darrell B. Harrison insists that God Has Spokenregarding how Christians must implement justice. Scripture speaks clearly to how we can live justly in this fallen world.

Do you remember how excited you were about Jesus when you first became a Christian? Elizabeth Prata invites us to think back to those days by Remembering our earliest gracein The End Time. She definitely provides wise counsel in this essay.

When the Holy Spirit helps us understand Scriptural principles, we naturally want to pass  those insights along. And that’s generally a good thing. But, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life shows us, sometimes we need His wisdom on When to Stop Talking.

With compassion and fidelity to God’s Word, Michael Coughlin writesDo People Who Commit Suicide Go To Hell? as his contribution to the Things Above Us blog. You might…

View original post 258 more words

September 15, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 10:11–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


the good shepherd dies for his sheep

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.” (10:11–13)

Jesus’ identification of Himself as the good shepherd points back to the true shepherd described in verses 2 to 5. It is the fourth “I AM” statement in John’s gospel (see the discussion of v. 7 above). The Greek text literally reads, “the shepherd, the good one,” setting Christ the Good Shepherd apart from all other shepherds. Kalos (good) refers to His noble character (cf. 1 Tim. 3:7; 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:3; 1 Peter 4:10); He is the perfect, authentic Shepherd; in a class by Himself; preeminent above all others.

Being a faithful shepherd entailed a willingness to lay one’s life on the line to protect the sheep. Robbers and wild animals such as wolves, lions, and bears were a constant danger (cf. 1 Sam. 17:34; Isa. 31:4; Amos 3:12). But Jesus, the good shepherd, went far beyond merely being willing to risk or actually risking His life for His sheep; He actually laid down His life for them (cf. v. 15; 6:51; 11:50–51; 18:14). The phrase lays down His life is unique to John’s writings and always refers to a voluntary, sacrificial death (vv. 15, 17–18; 13:37–38; 15:13; 1 John 3:16). Jesus gave His life for His sheep, because they were chosen to become part of His flock. The preposition huper (for) is frequently used in the New Testament to refer to Christ’s substitutionary atonement for the elect (cf. v. 15; 6:51; 11:50–51; 18:14; Luke 22:19; Rom. 5:6, 8; 8:32; 1 Cor. 11:24; 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:14–15, 21; Gal. 1:4; 2:20; 3:13; Eph. 5:2, 25; 1 Thess. 5:9–10; 1 Tim. 2:6; Titus 2:14; Heb. 2:9; 1 Peter 2:21; 3:18; 1 John 3:16). His death was an actual atonement to provide propitiation for the sins of all who would believe, as they were called and regenerated by the Spirit, because they were chosen by the Father.

Opposite the Good Shepherd, who gives His life for the sheep, is he who is a hired hand (like the doorkeeper of v. 3), and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, who sees the wolf coming (cf. Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29), and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them (cf. Matt. 9:36; Mark 6:34). The hired hand symbolizes the Jewish religious leaders and, by extension, all false shepherds. They are always mercenaries, doing ministry not for love of the souls of men or even love for the truth, but for money (Titus 1:10–11; 1 Peter 5:2; 2 Peter 2:3). Therefore they flee at the first sign of threat to their well-being, because they are not concerned about the sheep. Their overriding priority is self-preservation, and the last thing they care to do is to sacrifice themselves for anyone.[1]


“I Am the Good Shepherd”

John 10:11–18

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

The claim of the Lord Jesus Christ to be “the good shepherd” is the fourth of the “I am” sayings in John’s Gospel. But if we were to order these sayings in terms of their popularity, I am sure that “I am the good shepherd” would be number one. It is not that we understand it so completely, for there is certainly much about shepherds and their care of sheep in Christ’s time that we do not know. It is rather that there is so much in Christ’s saying that our hearts know intuitively and for which Jesus is loved.

The Good Shepherd

For one thing, Jesus claimed to be the “good” Shepherd. And we know by comparison with other people—particularly with those who are in positions of responsibility, whether parents, pastors, or politicians—that he is uniquely good. That is, he is good in a way that they are not. The word “good” is itself interesting, and we sense its meaning even though we may never have heard of the Greek word it translates or what the Greek signifies. The word means “good” in the sense of being morally good; but it also means “beautiful,” “winsome,” “lovely,” “attractive,” or even “possessing all and whatever qualities make the object described a good thing or the person a good person.” Moreover, if we compare Christ’s “I am the good shepherd” with his parallel claims to be “the true bread” or “the true vine,” we also see that the word means “genuine” or “true,” as opposed to “false” or “artificial.” But we all sense this; that is my point. At least, it is my point as regards all Christians. We sense that by this phrase we are to recognize Jesus as the good, beautiful, winsome, lovely, attractive, true, and genuine Shepherd.

Moreover, we understand that he is claiming to be that exclusively. For he is not a good shepherd, as though he were one of many in that class. He is the Good Shepherd. There have been other shepherds, of course. The Old Testament speaks of both good and bad shepherds of Israel. The New Testament speaks of shepherds for our day; for Jesus is termed the “Chief Shepherd” from whom the leaders of God’s people, the undershepherds, have assigned responsibilities (1 Peter 5:4). But compared to Jesus, we who are shepherds in the lesser sense scarcely seem to be that at all. For who of us could call ourselves “a good shepherd,” much less “the good shepherd.” Yet we instantly confess that he is both and love him for it.

Why does he call himself the Good Shepherd? Or, to put it in other language, what is he like or what has he done that he should bear this title? The verses of John 10 answer the question in two parts. First, Jesus is the Good Shepherd because he lays down his life for the sheep. We find that in verse 11. Second, Jesus is the Good Shepherd because he knows his sheep and directs them properly. We find that in verse 14. In both of these aspects Jesus is above all other men or women.

His Death, No Tragedy

I am amazed at the amount of teaching about the death of Jesus that we find in verse 11, and the more so because the teaching is more or less incidental to Christ’s statement. The point Jesus is making is that he can be called the Good Shepherd primarily because he gives his life for the sheep. This is obvious, first, because he repeats it four times—in verses 11, 15, 17, and 18—but also because it is emphasized in contrast to the hired hand who runs away when danger threatens. The good shepherd is the one who sticks by his sheep, who defends them, and who will even die for them if necessary. This is the main point. What is amazing is the amount of teaching about Christ’s death that occurs over and beyond this.

First, we are led to see that the death about which Jesus speaks is voluntary. This is evident in two places: in verse 11, which says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,” and in verses 17 and 18, which add, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”

We must never think, in contemplating the death of Christ, that this death was somehow an accident or, even worse, a tragedy. It may or may not have been a tragedy when Alexander the Great fell sick and died at an extremely young age, or when Keats died in his early twenties. But it was most certainly not a tragedy when Jesus died at approximately thirty-three years of age. This was no accident. This was and is the great turning point of history. It was planned before the foundation of the world, for Peter spoke of Christ, saying, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23). It was this for which Christ was born, for the angel told Joseph, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). It was this toward which Jesus’ life consciously and deliberately moved, as these and many other sayings of the Lord indicate. Jesus did not have to come to this earth, any more than a man has to be a shepherd. He did not have to die. Nevertheless, he both came and died voluntarily for our salvation.

Second, we are told that his death was vicarious; that is, Jesus died not for his own sin—he had none—but for ours and in our place. He indicates this by saying, “The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.

I cannot understand why so many have been urged to deny this. The words are plain enough, both here and elsewhere. They tell us that Jesus died, not only for others in the sense of “on their behalf,” but and even stronger than this, in the sense of “in their place.” The Greek preposition is hyper, the sense of which is given beyond any doubt in Romans 5:6–8, where the same phrases occur: “When we were still powerless Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man some might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The meaning is this: We are sinners; as sinners we deserve to die (both physically and spiritually); but Christ willingly died in our place, taking our punishment, so that we might be set free from sin and its penalty to serve God.

Third, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ was specific; that is, he died for a specified number of people designated in this verse as his sheep. We do not know who these sheep are, of course, and I am glad that we do not. If we could, we would be constantly prying into other persons’ lives to see whether or not the other one is chosen; and in that case we would be little better than spiritual peeping toms. It is not for us to know. We cannot know. If we had lived in Sodom, would we have judged Lot, Abraham’s nephew, to be a saved man? Probably not! Yet the New Testament tells us that he was accounted righteous in the sight of God, though he undoubtedly erred greatly in going to Sodom (2 Peter 2:7). Would we have considered Judas to be saved? Probably yes, in his case. But Jesus told us explicitly that he was a tool of Satan (John 6:70–71).

We cannot know precisely who these are for whom Christ died. But Jesus does know them and died for them. The result of this is that he literally paid the penalty for their sins and theirs only, with the further result that they are now fully justified in the sight of the Holy God and can stand boldly before him.

Finally, we are told the cause of the Shepherd’s death for the sheep. It is because he cares for them (v. 13) or, as we should more properly say, because he loves them.

“What? Love sheep? Do you mean to say that you really love sheep, Jesus, and that you love them enough to die for them?”

“Yes, that is right,” says Jesus. “I really do love them.”

“But they are just sheep, and sinful sheep at that! We would understand if you should say that you felt pity for them, that you hated or were even grieved to see them torn by wild animals or scattered. But surely you would not go so far as to give your life for these poor silly creatures? Your love cannot be as great or as strong as that?”

“But it is,” says Jesus. “I do love them. I love you.”

“Me? Me, with all my sin?”

“Yes,” says Jesus. “You are the one. I love you. I died for you. I want you to become a happy and useful sheep in my flock.”

I do not know about you, but I cannot understand such love. I cannot fathom it. I cannot trace the reasonings of such love. But I do believe it and respond to it rejoicing. That is all we can do after all. David once wrote, “How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?” He answered, “I will lift up the cup of salvation [that is, I will believe God concerning his offer of salvation] and call on the name of the Lord [that is, I will praise him for it]” (Ps. 116:12–13). And so we do, knowing that ours is the loveliest, most glorious song of the universe.

Awake, my soul, in joyful lays,

And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise:

He justly claims a song from me,

His loving-kindness is so free.

He saw me ruined in the fall,

Yet loved me notwithstanding all,

And saved me from my lost estate,

His loving-kindness is so great.

Foolish men may be ashamed of such a song and of such great love. But Jesus is not ashamed of it. It is rather his boast and glory: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” God forbid, then, that we should glory save in that which is his glory, even the cross “through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

Knowing and Known

In the second place, Jesus is the Good Shepherd because he knows the sheep and is known by them. There is comfort in that.

Why is that comforting? It is comforting because we long to be known and know others, and yet are basically incapable of it. It is true that there is a certain amount of knowledge of one another between human beings. Friends know one another. Parents know their children, children their parents. There is often a special and beautiful knowledge between husband and wife. But in spite of these things, for each of us deep in our hearts there is a hunger to be known better, to be known for what we really are, and to share a corresponding and similar knowledge of another. It exists on the human level. It exists above all on the divine level. For though we are sinners and in rebellion there is, nevertheless, a certain emptiness or hunger to know God and be known of God. Augustine called it restlessness, adding, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

Moreover, there is comfort in the claim that Jesus knows his sheep because it is precisely as “his sheep” that he knows them. In other words, to be known of him is at the same time to be a member of his flock and thereby to be one for whom he died and who, as he says later, will never be snatched from his hand. This is a permanent relationship, then, and a personal one. I am his sheep? Yes, forever! Then he is my Shepherd, and that is forever too.

Finally, there is comfort in the fact that Jesus knows his sheep. I therefore need not fear that something about me might suddenly rise up to startle him and diminish his love.

There is a wonderful illustration of this point in the nature of sheep themselves. It is because of it, no doubt, that we find the image of the sheep and the shepherd so apt. Think of the characteristics of sheep. For one thing, they are all different. In our time, we are so oriented to mass-produced products and, even in ranching, to such large herds that we seldom think of differences. To us a sheep is a sheep, a cow is a cow, a dog is a dog … yes, even a person is a person. But sheep are different from each other, people are different from each other; and the Good Shepherd recognizes those differences. In fact, it is by their differences that he knows them. If they were all alike, they would be indistinguishable.

I sometimes think that half our problems in the Christian church come from our trying to be exactly like another person, or from other people trying to make us be like them. Sheep are different. Jesus made them different and knows that they are different. So, be yourself, and strive to become all that Jesus wants you personally to be.

Not only are sheep different, they also are helpless. Jesus knows they are helpless, and that is why he has become our Good Shepherd. Did you know, for instance, that a sheep will often get stuck on its back like a turtle, so that it is unable to move, and that in warm weather it can die in that position within a few hours? A sheep in that position is called a “cast” sheep, and it must be rescued. Or again, did you know that a sheep is undiscriminating in its choice of food, so that it will eat anything, even poisonous roots and weeds? Or again, that a sheep is helpless in the face of predatory animals, so terrified, in fact, that it often will simply stand there without uttering a bleat until it is attacked and killed? I see myself in these characteristics, and as I do I am even more grateful for my Good Shepherd.

Jesus knows his sheep! Well, then, he also knows that they are wayward. A sheep can have perfect pasture, all that it needs or can ever need; yet, if there is so much as a tiny opening in an otherwise secure fence, somehow the sheep will find the opening, wriggle through, and wander away to less ample fields and into danger. I am like that, and so are you.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;

Prone to leave the God I love,

reads the hymn; and it is true. All we like sheep have gone astray yet in Jesus we have a Shepherd who is constantly on the alert to keep us from wandering and to seek us out when we succeed (as we often do) in going astray.

Finally, a sheep is useful. Each year, under proper management, it produces a valuable crop of wool. Thus, when we are told that Jesus knows his sheep, we know that he knows that of us also and that he desires to have us be useful both to himself and to others. I know that he does not need us. He who created the heavens and earth and all that is in them does not need sheep for what they can give him. He does not need our good works. He does not need us to convert people, or even to sing his praises. He has angels to do that. But the fact is: he has created us; he has called us into his flock; and he has given us work to do. How, then, will we do it? Will we be useful or useless? Industrious or lazy? Our attitude should be, “Lord, what would you have me do?” To be willing is to express gratitude to the One who is indeed our Good Shepherd.


The Chief Shepherd

John 10:11–18

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

The parable of the Good Shepherd is a parable in which believers can learn about the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is not only that. Like most passages of the Bible that tell us about the Lord Jesus Christ it also is one in which we can learn what we are to be as we are made like him. In other words, as Christ is the Good Shepherd, so, too, are we to be shepherds; and we are to find the standards for our shepherd work in his own.

The Bible points to this truth in an interesting way. Three times in the New Testament Jesus Christ is represented as the Shepherd, but in each case the word “shepherd” is preceded by a different adjective. In John 10, Jesus is called the good Shepherd, as we have seen—“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11). Here the emphasis is upon the voluntary and vicarious death of the Shepherd. In Hebrews 13:20–21 Jesus is called the great Shepherd—“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” In this verse the emphasis is upon Christ’s resurrection and therefore also upon his ability to work through and accomplish his purposes in his sheep. The third passage speaks of Jesus as the Chief Shepherd and stresses his second coming to reward those who have served him as undershepherds. It is 1 Peter 5:4—“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

These passages highlight the focal points of Christ’s ministry. As the Good Shepherd, Christ dies for the sheep. As the Great Shepherd, Christ rises from the dead so he might serve the sheep. As the Chief Shepherd, Christ returns to reward those who have been faithful in the responsibilities to which they have been assigned as undershepherds. It is the last of these that highlights the point I am making.

When Jesus described himself as the Shepherd he revealed many important aspects of what he is to us, but at the same time he also revealed what we should be to others. For we are all shepherds—if we are believers in Christ. To a greater or lesser extent we have all been given an oversight of others. Do we exercise our responsibility as Jesus exercised it—in the family, in business, in the affairs of the church, in government, or in other areas? Do we show Christ’s self-sacrifice and sympathy? Are we faithful? Whether we are or not, we may improve our service by reflecting on the characteristics of the Good Shepherd.

Found Faithful

The first and most obvious characteristic of the Good Shepherd is that he is faithful; that is, he is faithful in his responsibilities, not only when the skies are sunny and the countryside is peaceful but also when times are hard and when danger threatens. This is apparent from Christ’s contrast of himself to the hired hand who, unlike the Good Shepherd, “sees the wolf coming, … abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it” (v. 12).

The hired hand is one who is doing a job primarily for what he can get out of it rather than out of a true sense of responsibility toward the sheep. So the question becomes: Am I a hired hand in relation to those for whom God has made me responsible? Am I faithful or faithless? Do I stay with the work? Or do I abandon it when I see the wolf coming?

Before we try to excuse our conduct in this area (and we do try to excuse it), we need to hear one other thing said about the hired hand. It is in the next verse: “The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep” (v. 13). At first reading this may seem trite, but it is not at all trite. It reflects a profound principle: a man does what he does because of what he is. Pink writes, “The drunkard drinks because he is a drunkard. But he is a drunkard before he drinks to excess. The liar lies because he is a liar; but he is a liar before he tells a lie. The thief steals because he is a thief. When the testing time comes each man reveals what he is by what he does. Conduct conforms to character as the stream does to the fountain.” Therefore, before we try to excuse ourselves, let us learn that our conduct in testing proves what we are. Let us ask God for the character that proves faithful.

There is much in the Word of God about faithfulness. Jesus spoke of stewards who proved that they were faithful by the way they handled their master’s goods (Matt. 24:45–46; 25:14–30; Luke 12:42–43; 19:11–27). Paul wrote, “It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). He also encouraged Timothy to commit the gospel “to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2). He calls Onesimus a “faithful and dear brother” (Col. 4:9). Peter calls Silvanus “a faithful brother” (1 Peter 5:12). In Revelation, Antipas is called “my faithful witness” (Rev. 2:13). Faithfulness is of primary importance in Scripture. So whatever good characteristics we may have, we will prove of little value to the work of Christ if we do not possess this primary and essential characteristic.

Hardworking

Second, we must be hardworking and diligent. Nothing worthwhile is done without hard work. Yet many Christians act as though they have been saved by Christ merely to be transported to heaven on “flowery beds of ease,” as the hymn acknowledges. Our standard is to be that of the Good Shepherd who works hard for his sheep.

In our study of John 10:10 we had occasion to look at Psalm 23, which tells us that the one who has God for his Shepherd does not lack any good thing. Specifically, he does not lack rest, guidance, safety, provision, or a heavenly home. These provisions are worth reflecting on in themselves—we did reflect on them earlier—but they also lead us to ask: Why does the sheep of the psalm not lack them? The answer obviously is that the Shepherd provides them and that he does so through much diligence and hard work. The sheep does not lack rest because the Shepherd seeks out green pastures in which he may lie down. He does not lack guidance because “he leads me beside quiet waters” and because “he leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” He does not lack safety because the Shepherd defends him against natural disasters and wild animals. He does not lack provision because the Shepherd finds all that he needs and spreads it before him. He does not lack a heavenly home because the Shepherd has gone to prepare it for him and will return to lead him to it. All these items are provided through the hard work of the Shepherd.

In the same way, the needs of God’s people—whether in families, homes, or churches—are provided by the hard work of those whom the Lord has appointed as undershepherds. This includes most of us. If God’s people do not receive good spiritual food, it is usually because some minister is not working hard enough to provide it. If a family lacks love and security, it is because the parents are not working hard to provide these things in the home. If the widows are not cared for, it is because the deacons are slothful. If the church is not given proper spiritual direction, the elders are failing in their responsibility. The list could be carried on indefinitely.

Are we diligent? Do we work hard? One very hard worker, Watchman Nee of China, once wrote, “Only a diligent servant is of use to [the Lord. So] do not let us regard this matter lightly. … We shall have to deal with ourselves unsparingly before the Lord if we are to become workers who are not ‘unprofitable’ in his service.”

Patient

Third, we need to be patient—not with ourselves, of course, but with the sheep. This arises from the fact that sheep are sheep and that they need to be dealt with patiently.

A Christian humorist once said, “To look at the behavior of some ministers you would think that instead of having said, ‘Feed my sheep,’ the Lord had actually said, ‘Teach my trained dogs new tricks.’ ” This stimulates an interesting train of thought, for it is true that some regard God’s people as anything but sheep. Some, as the humorist indicated, act as though God’s people were circus dogs. Others act as though they were attack dogs; so they are always telling them to “Go, get the liberals” or “Go, get the Communists.” Some treat Christians like horses, getting them to charge some obstacle. Still others regard them as robots—they don’t have to think; they just need to be programmed. But we are not dogs or horses or robots. God calls us sheep, and sheep need patience.

Moreover, sheep are different, as I pointed out before. Some go too fast; we need to be patient with those. Others are too slow; we need to be patient with those who fall behind. In this as in other matters we need to learn from the Chief Shepherd.

A Good Example

Fourth, we need to be a good example. This is what Peter is talking about primarily in the verses in which Jesus is called the “Chief Shepherd.” He is writing to elders in these verses, though his words also apply more widely. He says, “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:1–4). Are we like that? Are we examples of mature Christian understanding, faithfulness in the midst of persecution, Christian morality, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control, and all the other virtues? The point of these words is that we should be such and that we also should be examples in our careful feeding of the sheep.

Self-Sacrificing

A shepherd must be self-sacrificing. This is the fifth characteristic. What is it that characterizes the good shepherd in Jesus’ description of him in John 10? Above all, that he gives his life for the sheep. We will never be able to give our lives as Jesus gave his life for us—he died for us as our sin-bearer—nevertheless, there are other ways in which we can give our lives for others. We can give our time in order to help them. We can sacrifice things that we would rather do or rather have in order to serve and give to others. In other words, we must put others ahead of ourselves. Our primary desire must be for their spiritual well-being and comfort.

The world says, “Me first; others second; God last.” The order for believers should be, “God first; others second; myself last.” It does not sound like a very attractive order to the natural mind, but the truth is that this is the way to a full life and a joyful existence. It takes self-sacrifice if a parent is to raise children properly, if a pastor is to guide and teach his people effectively, if a Sunday school teacher is to help her pupils, or if any worthwhile thing is to be accomplished. But it is rewarding. It is a source of great joy.

Moved by Love

Finally, the shepherd needs to be moved by love. Jesus loves us; he cares for his sheep. So ought we to love one another and care for one another. By this men should know that we are his disciples (John 13:34–35).

But where are we to learn this love? The only answer is: from Jesus. Therefore, we must learn to love him first of all, for it is only after this that we shall be able to love those whom he entrusts to our care. This was the last lesson the Lord Jesus Christ had for Peter. Peter had denied him three times, and the Lord wished to recommission Peter for service. So he came to Peter with the question: “Peter, do you love me?” It was repeated three times. On each occasion Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you,” and Jesus then replied, “Feed my sheep.” He knew that once Peter had come to love him he would love others also and would care for them.

So it is with all the lessons we are to learn. It is from Jesus himself that we learn them. Take the men from the Old Testament who are known as having been shepherds, and ask them where they learned to be shepherds.

Look at Jacob. He was not a particularly praiseworthy character. He was a cheat and a coward. But in one respect he was praiseworthy—he was a good shepherd. He was known for his faithful care of the sheep (Gen. 30:31; 31:36–42). Moreover, later (after the Lord had dealt with him), he was known for his care of his family in exactly the same way. We say to him, “Jacob, where did you learn to be a good shepherd? Where did you learn to care for the sheep?”

Jacob replies, “Well, it is true that I did care for the sheep; but I did not learn it of myself. It was not that I was faithful. I learned it rather from the Good Shepherd, the Shepherd of Bethel, who revealed himself to me and who cared for me during the years of my exile.”

We turn next to Joseph and say to him, “Joseph, you too were a shepherd in your youth; it is said of you that you were faithful in feeding the sheep (Gen. 37:2). Moreover, you were used by God later to feed people; for as ruler in Egypt you were used to store up grain that helped preserve millions of people during a great famine. Where did you learn that? Where did you learn to be faithful in feeding the sheep?”

Joseph answers, “From the God of my fathers, who fed me during the years of my slavery and imprisonment.”

“Moses, even you were a shepherd. You were raised in Egypt in the court of Pharaoh, but you spent the next forty years of your life in the deserts of Midian caring for the flocks of Reuel. It is said of you that you watered, protected, and guided the sheep (Exod. 2:16–17; 3:1), just as under God you later watered, protected, and guided the people of Israel during the forty years of their desert wandering. Where did you learn to do that? Where did you learn to give such care?”

Moses tells us that it was not from himself that he learned it, but rather from God’s protection and guidance of him as he fled from Egypt.

Finally, we see David. “David, you are preeminently the shepherd of Israel, the great shepherd king. As a boy you cared for the sheep; for you were the youngest in the family, and it was the job of the youngest to care for them. During those years you showed prowess in defending the sheep, for we read that you killed both a lion and a bear in rescuing them (1 Sam. 17:34–36). Later you showed similar prowess in defending Israel against even greater enemies. Where did you learn such courage?”

David says he learned it from the Great Shepherd about whom he had written. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Ps. 23:4–5).

Each one learned what he learned from the Shepherd of Israel. We can be good shepherds too if we can first say, “The Lord is my shepherd,” and then learn from him.[2]


I Am the Good Shepherd

John 10:11–21

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

From early in the Bible, the shepherd symbolized the faithful man of God. Abel, Adam and Eve’s son whose offering was accepted by God, was “a keeper of sheep” (Gen. 4:2). Jacob, the father of the nation Israel, was a shepherd, as was his trusted son Joseph. Moses was shepherding the flocks of Midian when God called to him from the burning bush (Ex. 3:1–2). David was the great shepherd-king of Israel, from whose house the Messiah was promised to come. Isaiah foretold, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isa. 40:11). It is no surprise, therefore, that Jesus identified himself with words recalling this image of the divinely ordained leader: “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11).

The Good Shepherd

Jesus spoke these words to contrast himself with the false shepherds of Israel, especially the hard-hearted Pharisees. Accordingly, he contrasts the Good Shepherd with those who watch the sheep for hire: “He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them” (John 10:12).

Phillip Keller, who as we have noted was himself a former shepherd, wrote a number of books recounting his experiences. He recalls his own first flock:

They belonged to me only by virtue of the fact that I paid hard cash for them. It was money earned by the blood and sweat and tears drawn from my own body during the desperate grinding years of the depression. And when I bought that first small flock I was buying them literally with my own body which had been laid down with this day in mind. Because of this I felt in a special way that they were in very truth a part of me and I a part of them.… [This] made those thirty ewes exceedingly precious to me.

But this is not at all how a hired hand feels about the flock. Keller remembers a ranch operated by a tenant sheepman. “He ought never to have been allowed to keep sheep,” Keller writes. “His stock were always thin, weak and riddled with disease or parasites.” The reason was that the hired shepherd had no personal interest in the sheep and did not expend himself in preparing green pastures.

As Jesus says, the hireling may serve fairly well when things are safe. It is when danger comes that the hireling flees. “He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep” (John 10:13). J. C. Ryle states, “He feeds the flock for money and not for love—for what he can get by it, and not because he really cares for the sheep.” The same thing happens in the church when its ministers serve only for money or other gain, to the detriment of the flock.

This makes the point that each of us acts according to our character. We do according to what we are. The false shepherd flees because he is a hireling, whereas the true Shepherd lays down his life because of the love in his heart. Moreover, our character is especially tested in times of crisis and trouble. Many a paid shepherd is revealed as a hireling only when the wolf appears, just as many a good shepherd is recognized only when he sacrifices for the good of the flock. Given this, character should always be a prime consideration whether you are selecting someone for a job opening, deciding on someone to marry, or choosing a spiritual leader to follow. Character matters.

This is how Jesus revealed himself as the Good Shepherd: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). William Barclay writes, “Jesus was the good shepherd, who so loved His sheep that for their safety He would risk, and one day give, His life.”

There are two Greek words for good. One is the word agathos, which speaks of moral goodness. But it is the second word, kalos, that Jesus uses here. Kalos denotes beauty or excellence. The Good Shepherd is attractive and genuine. One old writer remarks, “It is possible to be morally upright repulsively.” But Jesus is the genuine, lovely, attractive, and true Shepherd to whom others can only dimly be compared.

Seeing Jesus as the Good Shepherd gives comfort to every Christian. To be saved is to enjoy a personal relationship as a sheep to the most wonderful, trustworthy Shepherd of our souls. Whatever is happening in our lives, we can know that we are the sheep of God’s pasture and that God’s own Son is watching over, guiding, and protecting us.

Jesus highlights two features of his shepherding ministry that sum up his care for his own. First, he is the Good Shepherd because he lays down his life for the sheep. Second, the Good Shepherd gathers all his sheep into one flock for intimate fellowship with himself.

Lays Down His Life

First, Jesus is the Good Shepherd because he “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). In a general sense, this may refer to the way in which a shepherd pours out his time and energy for the well-being of his flock. But it is clear that Jesus specifically refers to his sacrificial death on the cross. Indeed, Jesus’ description provides a valuable summary of the Christian doctrine of the atonement.

The first thing we should observe is the centrality of the cross for the Christian faith. The one thing above all else that makes Jesus the Good Shepherd is that he lays down his life for the sheep. Some consider the cross to be an embarrassment and would like to emphasize something else about our faith. But the distinctive and central feature of Christianity is its teaching of the cross of Christ.

We can see this throughout the New Testament. The angel told Joseph what to name his expected son: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). At the end of Jesus’ ministry, we see the same emphasis. During his last meal with the disciples, Jesus established a sacrament by which he would be remembered, the Lord’s Supper, the elements of which specifically point to his coming death. Handing out the bread, Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then passing the cup, he told them, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (26:26–28).

Given this clear emphasis, a purported Christianity that downplays the problem of sin and the remedy of Christ’s death is not the Christianity that Jesus taught. The same can be said of Paul’s teaching: “I decided to know nothing among you,” he said, “except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). He added, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).

Second, Jesus emphasizes the voluntary nature of his sacrificial death. The Good Shepherd does not merely suffer death, but “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11, 15). “No one takes it from me,” he says, “but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up” (10:18). The resurrection, whereby Jesus rose from the grave, is the proof of his authority to lay down his own life.

It is true that Jesus died because the Jewish authorities arrested him and Pontius Pilate directed the Roman soldiers to nail him to the cross. But none of these things could have happened without Jesus’ consent. Barclay comments: “Jesus was not the victim of circumstance. He was not like some animal, dragged to the sacrifice, unwilling to go, struggling against the hands of the priest, unknowing what was happening. Jesus voluntarily laid down His life because He chose to do so.” Jesus came into the world for the primary purpose of laying down his life for the sheep, and he did so by his own will.

This points to the third feature of Jesus’ teaching: his death was a vicarious sacrifice. Vicarious describes something performed or suffered in the place of others. Jesus says that he died “for the sheep.” He offered himself as a Substitute for sinners before the holy justice of God. He accepted the guilt that our sins deserved and received God’s just wrath in our place.

The famous Swiss theologian Karl Barth was once asked to give the most important word in the Bible. He answered with the Greek word hyper. This is the word that is translated as “for.” The Good Shepherd lays down his life “for” the sheep. The word may also be translated as “on behalf of,” or “in the place of.” This shows us that Christian salvation comes not by what we do for ourselves or even what we might do for God. Rather, the heart of the gospel is what Jesus did for us and on our behalf. Paul wrote: “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.… God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6, 8). James Montgomery Boice explains the vicarious nature of Jesus’ death: “We are sinners; as sinners we deserve to die (both physically and spiritually); but Christ willingly died in our place, taking our punishment, so that we might be set free from sin and its penalty to serve God.” Oh, the wonder that Jesus, God’s Son, should suffer and die for us. Let us exalt him in faith and with praise!

Jesus teaches a fourth thing about his cross, namely, that it was planned in advance according to God’s will. He explains that he laid down his life because “this charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:18). Not only did God know that Jesus was going to die, but he permitted it to happen. And not only did he permit it to happen, but he planned it. Peter preached that Jesus died “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). And according to that same plan, Jesus rose from the dead to give eternal life to his sheep. So not only did Jesus die for us, but it was also for us that God gave his divine Son.

Fifth, Jesus’ atoning death was personal and particular in its design. That is, Jesus died for specific, particular people whom he was saving. Jesus does not say that he died for the whole world. Of course, it is true that his death offers salvation to everyone (see 1 John 2:2). But he died “for the sheep,” that is, for the elect people whom God had given him from all eternity. Later in this chapter, Jesus says, “I give [my sheep] eternal life, and they will never perish.… My Father … has given them to me” (John 10:28–29). Later in John’s Gospel, we read of Jesus’ prayer on the night of his arrest: “I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours” (17:9). “I know my own,” he asserts (10:14), and he died with each and every one of his own sheep upon his heart.

This should make all the difference to a believer’s devotion to Jesus. We admire someone who dies for a principle, as the philosopher Socrates did when he refused to escape execution in ancient Athens. We extol a martyr who dies for a cause. When Nathan Hale was captured by the British during the American Revolution, he gained lasting fame by declaring, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” But the Christian can look to the cross and say something greater than that Jesus died for the principle or the cause of salvation. We can say, “He died for me.” Nothing warrants greater love or higher praise than knowing this truth.

This leads to one last, and sixth, point that Jesus makes about his atoning death: it was born of his great love. There is no greater love than that which offers its own life. The Good Shepherd loves his sheep, and that is why he lays down his life for them.

In the First World War, a young French soldier was wounded and his arm had to be amputated. The surgeon struggled to tell the soldier as he awoke. “I am sorry to tell you that you have lost your arm,” he finally said. But the soldier replied, “Sir, I did not lose it; I gave it—for France.” Likewise, Jesus did not lose his life on the cross. He gave it out of love for his sheep. A. W. Pink writes, “It was not the nails, but the strength of His love to the Father and to His elect, which held Him to the Cross.”9One Shepherd, One Flock

Besides the fact that he laid down his life, Jesus is the Good Shepherd because he gathers his sheep into the one flock of God:

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:14–16)

Just as Jesus’ Good Shepherd teaching gives a primer on the atonement, it also sums up much of the Bible’s teaching on his church.

The first thing we notice is that the flock of Christ is where his sheep find belonging. This is one of mankind’s greatest needs, and it is an especially great need for people today. We long to be known and really to know others. So many people have no place to belong, but Christians find belonging in the flock of Christ. “I know my own and my own know me,” he says. This is the answer for what C. S. Lewis termed the “God-shaped hole” in every person’s life. Every heart sometimes wonders, “Who am I? What does my life mean? What destiny is there for me?” Jesus answers with the intimate fellowship between man and his Maker, the sheep and his Shepherd. As St. Augustine so memorably put it in prayer to God: “Thou hast formed us for thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” Those who are redeemed through faith in the blood of Christ enter into this fellowship with God together with all the flock.

Jesus notes that this was not just an offer made to the ancient people of Israel or even to his hearers at that time. “I have other sheep that are not of this fold,” he says (John 10:16). This is where you and I enter into the gospel: Jesus foretells that sheep will be gathered not just from Judaism as the first converts were, but from every fold in the world. The spread of Christianity across the globe validates this prophecy, as does the conversion of every person from different races and lands on the earth.

Notice, too, how definite this is. Jesus does not declare that he merely hopes for more sheep. He does not merely desire that his flock should extend into other racial and national folds. Nor does he merely predict that this will happen. He says, “I have” other sheep (John 10:16). Every Christian, including those not yet saved, was known to Jesus and belonged to him from all eternity. Jesus calls them all “my own” (10:14). He says not that he plans to bring in his sheep, but that “I must bring them also.” He promises not that some may listen and come, but that “they will listen to my voice” (10:16). It is hard to imagine stronger terms to declare the sovereignty of Christ’s saving plans and his certainty of success in gathering all his own sheep.

Yet we also notice that Jesus’ flock is gathered in a particular way: “They will listen to my voice” (John 10:16). This is why gospel proclamation is always at the heart of Christian ministry. It is always by hearing the good news that Christ’s sheep come to him. Paul therefore exhorts us to the ministry of preaching and witnessing the gospel of Christ, asking: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” Christ gathers his sheep for salvation as his gospel is proclaimed and heard unto faith. “So faith comes from hearing,” Paul concludes, “and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:14–17).

Our intimate relationship with God shapes our relationships with one another. Jesus speaks of the unity of the flock he has gathered: “There will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16). This teaches that all true Christians are joined by the Good Shepherd into one flock. This unity is based on the loving union within the Godhead. Jesus said, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again” (10:17). The Father has loved the Son from all eternity, but the faithful obedience of Jesus on the cross only stirs up the Father’s love all the more. So it is among believers. We love each other because of the love of God in us and because of what Jesus has done for each of us. And as we serve one another in his name, that loving unity grows more and more.

Many people believe that Christian unity is something that we have to achieve. But Jesus tells us that the unity of his flock is something that he has achieved. The unity of all Christians is a fact, not a mere hope. It is true that Christians today are not gathered in a single visible hierarchy. Some people are troubled by the presence of denominations, but Jesus does not say that there will be only one sheepfold; he says that there will be only one flock. In fact, the worst times for the church—the times when the gospel has been most corrupted and muted—were times when Christians were organized into a single religious and political institution. Instead, ours is a spiritual unity.

It is natural for like-minded Christians and churches to band together in denominations and other associations. Much of our work is likely to take place within such unions. Moreover, Christian leaders have a duty to oppose false teaching and expose wolves among the sheep. But we should always avoid a spirit of disunity and party factionalism. We must be happy to work alongside other believers who profess the gospel of the cross of Christ. Christians need one another and have an obligation to manifest the love-union that we have together in Christ.

A good example of this took place in the ministry of Egerton Young, the first missionary to the Native Americans in Saskatchewan. On one occasion, Young explained to an old Indian chief the love of God as the Father of all who believe in Jesus. This idea amazed the chief. “That is very new and sweet to me,” he said. “We have never thought of the great Spirit as Father. We heard Him in the thunder; we saw Him in the lightning, the tempest and the blizzard, and we were afraid. So when you tell us that the great Spirit is our Father, that is very beautiful to us.” He then paused as another thought came to him. “Missionary, did you say that the great Spirit is your Father?” “Yes,” Young answered. “And did you say that He is the Indians’ Father?” “I did,” said the missionary. “Then,” cried the old chief, with a look of great joy, “you and I are brothers!”

This is Jesus’ point exactly. Here is the only hope for unity among mankind. No other power can remove the hatred between nations and men than the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Only in Christ can we overcome the divisions of race, class, and nationality, and our union of love is one of the greatest blessings that believers now enjoy. All Christians have the same Lord and Savior in Jesus, and the same God as our Father. We have been redeemed from the same condemnation of sin and have all gained forgiveness at the same cross. All believers are joined in one flock with one Good Shepherd, we all partake of similar trials and hardships in this life, and all Christians are destined for the same eternal glory. What a privilege it is for us to experience this unity now together in the church.

A Divided World

There remains, however, a great division within mankind as a whole. It is the division between those who are members of Christ’s flock and those who are not. We see this in the conclusion of this episode: “There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, ‘He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?’ Others said, ‘These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’ ” (John 10:19–21).

To the unbelieving world, Jesus’ teaching about sacrificial love—a Good Shepherd who lays down his life—is sheer madness. This is what some of Jesus’ listeners were saying: “He has a demon, and is insane.” But others were drawn by Jesus’ teaching and understood the meaning of his miracles. The true division is over Jesus and his gospel; Paul explained that it is “to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Cor. 2:16).

So the world is divided into those who reject Christ’s gospel as madness and those who receive it as the aroma of life. This division will continue for all eternity, as those who believe enter everlasting life and those who reject Jesus receive everlasting condemnation. But thank God that time remains for many still to pass from life to death. There are still “other sheep” of whom Jesus spoke. Is he calling you? If you are already one who has come, Jesus calls you to spread the good news. We must spread it with our lips, telling all who will hear about the Good Shepherd who gives his life for the sheep. And we must spread it with our lives, through the love of God that binds us as precious, purchased sheep in one flock destined together for everlasting glory.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 431–432). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 753–764). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Phillips, R. D. (2014). John. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (1st ed., Vol. 1, pp. 643–652). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

EChurch@Wartburg – 9.16.18 —

Here is our Order of Worship

A Prayer by William Barclay link
1907-1978 link

O God, you are our refuge
When we are exhausted by life’s efforts;
When we are bewildered by life’s problems;
When we are wounded by life’s sorrows:
We come for refuge to you.
O God, you are our strength.

When our tasks are beyond our powers;
When our temptations are too strong for us;
When duty calls for more than we have to give to it:
We come for strength to you.

O God, it is from you that all goodness comes
It is from you that our ideals come;
It is from you that there comes to us the spur of high desire and the restraint of conscience.
It is from you that there has come the strength to resist any temptation, and to do any good thing.

And now as we pray to you,
Help us to believe in your love,
so that we may be certain
that you will hear our prayer;

Help us to believe in your power,
so that we may be certain
that you are able to do for us
above all that we ask or think;

Help us to believe in your wisdom,
so that we may be certain
that you will answer,
not as our ignorance asks,
but as your perfect wisdom knows best.

All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

A Prayer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer link

O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you:
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me…
Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before you and before me.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.
Amen

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 1:12-17 (NASB Bible Gateway)

Are You not from everlasting,
O Lord, my God, my Holy One?
We will not die.
You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge;
And You, O Rock, have established them to correct.
Your eyes are too pure to [a]approve evil,
And You can not look on wickedness with favor.
Why do You look with favor
On those who deal treacherously?
Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up
Those more righteous than they? Why have You made men like the fish of the sea,
Like creeping things without a ruler over them?
The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook,
Drag them away with their net,
And gather them together in their fishing net.
Therefore they rejoice and are glad.
Therefore they offer a sacrifice to their net
And [b]burn incense to their fishing net;
Because through these things their [c]catch is [d]large,
And their food is [e]plentiful.
Will they therefore empty their net
And continually slay nations without sparing?

The Lord’s Prayer

After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.

Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13 KJV

Phillippians 4:6-7 NASB (Bible Gateway)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

via EChurch@Wartburg – 9.16.18 —

Devin Nunes Warns Democrats And Media They Won’t Like Declassified Info On Russia And Spy Warrants — The Gateway Pundit

Devin Nunes knows a lot more than the average person in Congress when it comes to the Russia investigation. He is an ally of Trump and he has been pushing for Trump to declassify documents related to the FISA warrants that led to investigations of the dossier and Russia.

Nunes is now warning Democrats and the media that they won’t like what they see.

The Daily Caller reports:

NUNES: DEMOCRATS, JOURNALISTS WILL BE ‘FRIGHTENED’ BY DECLASSIFIED TRUMP-RUSSIA DOCUMENTS

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said this week that Democrats and the media are likely to be “frightened” by the information contained in Trump-Russia documents that Republicans are asking President Trump to declassify.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Center for Security Policy on Thursday, Nunes said that Trump is close to declassifying portions of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant granted against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

On July 21, the Justice Department released heavily redacted versions of four FISA warrants granted against Page from Oct. 2016 through June 2017…

Nunes, a close ally of Trump’s, noted that Democrats and media pundits claimed after the initial release of the FISAs that “the really bad stuff about the Trump campaign was buried in the redactions.”

“And I said, you know what, you might be right. We should declassify the whole thing,” Nunes said Thursday, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

Nunes asserted that Trump’s critics have backed away from that argument out of fear that the rest of the FISA application will be damaging to the FBI and the narrative that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.

“And you know why? Because I think they’re going to be frightened by what you see,” Nunes said of Democrats and the press.

The fact that Nunes is saying this so confidently leads one to believe the declassified documents will blow a major hole in the left’s narrative about Russia.

This report from the Washington Free Beacon is very telling:

Intel Chair: FBI, Justice Corrupted for Political Spying

Democrats and their media allies seeking to advance a liberal political agenda corrupted the FBI and Justice Department in improperly spying on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said this week.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), the intelligence panel head who has spearheaded an investigation into corruption at the FBI, also warned in a speech that China has emerged as the most serious strategic threat facing the United States…

“The reason that the press is completely, finally, essentially come out of their shell and became who they always were is because they don’t know what to do,” he said.

“So they’ve put everything they have out on the field and this is really Nancy Pelosi’s last stand,” Nunes noted.

“The reason that they have this fight, the reason that they have Antifa, the reason that they’re protesting, the reason that they’re causing all of these riots, the reason that they’re doing things that you normally wouldn’t see in this country, the reason that they’re actually willing to corrupt the FBI and the DOJ—they’re doing it because we’re winning folks,” he said.

“We’re winning and I think we have a good chance to win this fall if we keep the faith, stay on message, and help out our colleagues.”

via Devin Nunes Warns Democrats And Media They Won’t Like Declassified Info On Russia And Spy Warrants — The Gateway Pundit

Study: Half Of All Transgender Female Teens Have Attempted Suicide — Christian Research Network

The study raises serious questions about how families, schools, doctors, government, and the media should grapple with the increasing number of children who label themselves transgender.

(Kelsey Harkness – The Federalist)  One in every two transgender adolescents who are female but identify as male has attempted suicide in the past year, according to a new study. The study was published in Pediatrics, the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The study raises serious questions about how families, schools, doctors, government, and the media should grapple with the increasing number of children and teens who label themselves transgender. In addition to the alarmingly high rate of suicide attempts among transgender girls, the study reported an attempted-suicide rate of more than 40 percent for adolescents who call themselves “gender nonconforming” (neither exclusively male nor female), and nearly 30 percent for transgender male teens.

Researchers said they did not find any evidence that non-Caucasian transgender youth were at a higher risk compared with white transgender adolescents. Higher levels of education among parents and geographical location—urban or rural—did not have a significant effect on suicide attempts either.

To arrive at the results, three researchers from the University of Arizona analyzed asurvey filled out by more than 120,000 young Americans between the ages of 11 and 19. By comparison, they found that 14 percent of all teenagers had attempted suicide at least once. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults ages 10 to 34 in the U.S.

The study’s leading author, Russell B. Toomey, PhD, focuses his work on youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or what they call queer—meaning that any attempts to discredit the research as “anti-LGBTQ” will likely fall flat. Toomey describes his research in his bioView article →

Research:

Homosexual Agenda

via Study: Half Of All Transgender Female Teens Have Attempted Suicide — Christian Research Network

September 15 Nathanael’s Encounter with Jesus

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”—John 1:47–49

Of all the apostles, Nathanael had one of the more interesting first encounters with Jesus. After Philip told him he had found the Messiah—“Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph”—Nathanael was skeptical. His dubious reply, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” reflects his incredulity that the Messiah could come from such an insignificant town. Yet he followed Philip.

As he approached, “Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’ ” Jesus recognized that Nathanael’s blunt, honest reply revealed his lack of duplicity and his willingness to examine Jesus’ claims for himself. Nathanael was “an Israelite indeed”—he was a genuine, true disciple from the beginning.

Taken aback by Jesus’ omniscient recognition of him, Nathanael was also surprised by Jesus’ supernatural knowledge of information known only to him. Not only did Jesus supernaturally see Nathanael’s physical location, but He also saw into his heart (cf. Ps. 139:1–4).

Whatever happened under the fig tree, Jesus’ supernatural knowledge of it removed Nathanael’s doubt. Overwhelmed, he acknowledged Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah.

Just think—Jesus knows you every bit as intimately as He knew Nathanael. The same acknowledgement of Christ’s deity ought to be on your lips as well.

ASK YOURSELF

Is Jesus’ intimate knowledge of you a source of fear and anxiety, or is it rather a source of comfort and security? If you’re living in the first state of mind, try putting into words why anything that keeps you from the latter could possibly be worth it.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 267). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

SEPTEMBER 15 PRAYER OF FAITH LAYS HOLD OF GOD’S OMNIPOTENCE

…In everything by prayer and supplication…let your requests be made known unto God.

PHILIPPIANS 4:6

To “accept the universe” does not mean that we are to accept evil conditions as inevitable and make no effort to improve them. So to teach would be to cancel the plain teachings of the Scriptures on that point.

Where a situation is contrary to the will of God, and there are clear promises concerning it in the Scriptures, it is our privilege and obligation to pray and labor to bring about a change. Should we become ill, for instance, we should not surrender to the illness as being inevitable and do nothing about it. Rather, we should accept it provisionally as the will of God for the time and seek His will about recovering our health.

While the prayer of faith enables us to lay hold of the omnipotence of God and bring about many wonderful changes here below, there are some things that not even prayer can change. These lie outside the field of prayer and must be accepted with thanksgiving as the wise will of God for us.

We should, for instance, accept the wisdom of God in nature. In the course of a lifetime there may be a thousand things we could wish had been different, but the word “wish” is not in the Christian’s vocabulary. The very word connotes a fretful rebellion against the ways of God in His universe.

Again, accept yourself. Apart from sin, which you have forsaken, there is nothing about yourself of which you need to be ashamed. Cease to vex yourself about anything over which you have no control. Keep your heart with all diligence and God will look after the universe![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.