God Is Still the Shepherd

Day 286

Jeremiah 22:1-23:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12; Psalm 83:1-18; Proverbs 25:11-14

God Is Still the Shepherd

In John 10, Jesus declares that He is the Good Shepherd—and the Church has loved to make stained glass windows and picture storybooks of Jesus carrying lambs on His shoulders or in His arms. It is for many of us a comforting picture. However, in Jeremiah 23, the image of a shepherd is one of power and judgment.

God had raised up the kings, priests, and prophets to be the leaders of God’s people and to be their shepherds. But those leaders had failed the people miserably.

Instead of trusting God, Jehoiachin, the king, made alliances with other nations and their gods to protect the nation against Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. In the process, he broke his own people with inordinate taxes while enhancing his own home.

Yet God put His foot down, dismissed Jehoiachin from the throne, and proclaimed, “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.”

Today, leaders around the world have failed and are failing the Church—some pastors live in affluence while their people struggle, other preachers do not know their Scriptures, and yet others are entangled with corrupt politicians.

Yet, God remains the Shepherd of His people who removes unholy leaders and raises up new ones according to His purposes. Pray for your leaders today to remain faithful and obedient, and for our brothers and sisters who wait for new, godly leaders.

The Rev. Loren Fox
Church of Our Savior
Palm Bay, FL

Do Not Despise Prophecies

Day 285

Jeremiah 19:1-21:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-28; Psalm 82:1-8; Proverbs 25:7b-10

Do Not Despise Prophecies 

On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter stood up and declared what had been spoken from the Prophet Joel: “’And in the last days it shall be,’ God declares, ‘that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams’” (Acts 2:16-17).

A few weeks ago my daughter Bethany had a dream. She wrote this: “Last night I had a dream that Jesus was coming back. People were being gathered in anticipation for His return. We all went to the four winds to listen for the alarm to go off saying He is coming. He was not on the mountaintop, which we all were on but He was coming. He was waiting. I felt so much peace. And I was feeling so lovesick- I just wanted to see Him so badly. Then He didn’t come and I was thinking, ‘Oh, God is the same as every other person–unreliable. He is not going to show up. As time passed we realized that He hadn’t come yet because it was us who were not ready. I woke up from my dream and heard this verse, ‘For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night’ (1 Thess. 5:2). This shook up my whole day. Jesus is real and Jesus is coming. No one knows the day or the hour and our call is to be ready! He is coming for a pure bride! Without spot or blemish! Maranatha!”

The Apostle Paul writes: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast the good” (1 Thess 5:19-21). We are to listen when a prophetic dream or word is given, but we are also called to test it. We put prophecy to the test by checking with Scripture. A prophetic word will never contradict the Bible – this is how we test whether prophecy is true or false. Prophecy is intended to strengthen, encourage, and comfort us (1 Corinthians 14:3).

In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul gives instructions for us in these last days. We are to be ready in how we live and how we wait for Christ’s return, knowing that He is the hope of our salvation because He died for us, so that whether we are alive on this earth today or leave tomorrow, we might live with Him forever. This is the good news, in which we can rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances! I join Paul and pray this blessing for you today: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24).  Maranatha! Our Lord is coming!

The Rev. Robin Morical
All-Saints Episcopal Church
Enterprise, FL

Potter and Clay

Day 284

Jeremiah 16:16-18:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3; Psalm 81:1-16; Proverbs 25:6-7a

Potter and Clay

Jeremiah speaks of God as the potter and we as the clay, an image behind much great Christian art. All too often, we see ourselves as the potter and our lives as the clay. God may be our pottery coach, but rarely are we willing to plop ourselves on the wheel and let God make of us what He will.

We seem to think that we are in control of our own lives and destiny, so we tell our children that they can be anything they want if they just “follow their dreams” and work hard enough (one of the great lies of our day, but I digress…). When things don’t turn out as we hoped, we either assume that we are incompetent potters, or someone has messed up our work. Only too rarely do we consider that we are in the wrong seat!

Recently, a parishioner was having a “debate” with his daughter. His daughter insisted that Jesus accepts anyone who comes to Him, while the parishioner insisted that Jesus accepts only the truly penitent. Who is right? Yes, Jesus does accept whoever comes to Him, but coming to Him means giving our lives over to Him. Coming to Jesus is conditional on nothing but our becoming the clay. Anything less is just looking for divine favors.

Are you the potter of your own life, or are you clay in the hands of God?

The Rev. Eric Turner
St. John’s
Melbourne, FL