Romans 8:37

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors [hupernikomen] through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sobering Warnings to Preachers and Pastors, (and to those who hear them).

This week I happened to be studying both Ezekiel and John 10 and was struck by the importance of the sheep hearing the voice of Jesus well so that they can follow him, and the sobering responsibility of pastors, preachers and watchmen to convey God's messages accurately and completely. The Lord emphasizes this life and death responsibility repeatedly in Ezekiel, and that responsibility continues to be revealed in the New Testament, as the reader will observe below.

You might read the passages below and think, the focus is unbalanced toward the “negative” warnings and you would be correct in the sense that I focused primarily on God's warnings to preachers and those who listen to them. That was done in response to hearing God's repeated warnings to Israel, particularly in Ezekiel, and to my own recognition that I have not listened to this message as much as to the encouraging words offered to pastors and preachers in contemporary books. Sure, we need encouragement, but if we are ordained as pastors and preachers, we had better pay even greater heed to what God has to say to us about our ministries. I am convicted to study my Bible more vigorously and to communicate the Word of God more fully because of the Word of the Lord that I have received this past week. I pray that I may not lose my resolve. With that thought in mind there is a sad reminder of one who began so well, who was so greatly blessed, and then ended his life so poorly: Solomon. Consider all that Solomon accomplished with God's help, but his is how he ended:

4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. 8 And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods. 9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. 1 Kings 11:4-9 (ESV)

Having studied and compiled these verses this week, I am also convicted that it is too important not to share with others. So, here are the passages that have been on my mind this week. May the Lord convey them to you and stir you up as He sees fit.

The Sheep follow Jesus
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10.27, 28 (ESV)

Discipline and preaching
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9.27 (ESV)

Leaders will give an account
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13.17 (ESV)

Shepherd eagerly as an example
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 1 Peter 5:1-4 (ESV)

Prophetic word is from the Lord
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2.1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 Peter 1:19-2:1 (ESV)

Speak whether or not they listen
And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.” Ezekiel 3:11 (ESV)

The watchman must warn
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. Ezekiel 3:17 (ESV)

Preaching to a rebellious house
2 “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house. 3 As for you, son of man, prepare for yourself an exile's baggage, and go into exile by day in their sight. You shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. Ezekiel 12:2, 3 (ESV)

The Lord's Sabbath
Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. Ezekiel 20:12 (ESV)

Watchman's Warning
6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand. 7 “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. Ezekiel 33:6, 7 (ESV)

Listening but not transformed by preaching
30 “As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ 31 And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. 32 And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. Ezekiel 33:30-32 (ESV)

Lazy Glutenous Shepherds
34.1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. 6 My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. 7. “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. Ezekiel 34:1-10 (ESV)

Android Aps for Bible Study

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the God.” Matthew 4.4, (quoting Deuteronomy 8.3 in the context of being fed by God with manna, then to cross over into the Promised Land!)  The Bread of Heaven is Jesus feeding us in BOTH Word and Sacrament.  We are starving to death without regularly feeding on the Word of God.

bibleDuring an overview of Jeremiah and Lamentations for adult Christian Education on Sunday, I mentioned that I am using my phone to listen to the Bible on Bible Gateway, while also having the Blue Letter Bible Ap up to make bookmarks. I thought it might be helpful to list them and how I use them.

There are a number of Bible editions and audio versions available on Bible Gateway. I listen to the New International Version (NIV), read by George W. Sarris, while reading the Holman Study Bible (HCSB) on the Blue Letter Bible. I read the HCSB on my phone because it does not require a download or online connection, and it is a reliable translation of the Bible, similar to ESV and NIV.  The English Standard Bible (ESV) is the physical Bible from which I most often read and preach.

While listening, if a text grabs my attention, I book mark the text on BLB, which is as simple as touching the verse and then touching "Bookmark This Verse".  (You don't have to pause Bible gateway audio to do this - just keep both aps active at the same time.) Afterwards, you can scroll through your bookmarks and read the verses that you marked.  BLB gives you the option to make different categories of Bookmarks. So far, I am just using the general category. But I can see the benefit in dividing them up, if you sue the BLB ap over a long period of time. I also use my bluetooth regularly, so that I can listen while driving or walking. We really have no excuse for not studying our Bibles when it is this easy. Also, if you don't pause the audio very often, you will be amazed at how fast you get through a book of the Bible, and I find that I gain a better sense of the whole flow and theme of the book this way. With my leather Bible, I linger more over specific passages and don't see it as well on the overall context. Both of these methods are valuable.

The links to the websites are included above. The Android Aps are listed by the same names in Google Play on your Android device. If one of you reading this is Apple savvy and knows of similar links for Apple devices, please add those to the comments.

I pray this is a blessing to your Bible study. I’d love to see your comments about what is working best for you.

Fr. Van McCalister