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The Chief Shepherd (4th and Last in Series)

by Julius Hovan

We welcome you to this broadcast of Words of Life.  We hope you are a regular listener we hope you have been listening in as we have presented three lessons previously on this subject, Shepherd of the Sheep.

As we have revealed from the word of God that there is a need for leadership in our lives.  The if we do not have someone to lead us and teach us we become scattered and lost.  We find that often times there are inadequate human shepherds.  We find that there are sometimes false shepherds, who would lead us astray, that would lead is afar from that which is good and right, from that life which brings joy and happiness.

But then we turn to the fact that there is a good shepherd provided by God.  This good shepherd gave his life in our place that we might have life.  And he knows us and loves us though we are sinners.  Though we continue to sin even after we accept him.  Yet he knows us and loves us and loves us better day by day as described for us in the gospel of John, chapter 10.  If you haven’t read it recently, I would suggest that you do that.

Then we saw that not only is he the good shepherd, but he is also referred to as the great shepherd.  This elevates him to a higher position.  He was raised to a new life by God.  He had given his life remember.  God had given him a new life so that we can walk in a newness of life.  We don’t have to walk in that old life of sin that drags us down and we wake up with a headache and a hangover, other problems, our family is divided and life is a drag to go thru.  We can no longer live with our won strength and wisdom.

We have already proven what we can do on our own.  We have made so many messes, committed so many sins, got into so much trouble.  So, we know how inadequate we are.  This great shepherd has been raised to give us this abundant life and we have it at our disposal.  Listen to me, the very power that raised the dead.  The power that raised up the Lord Jesus.  The power that created the world, and he equips us to do his will.  Sadly, an abundant life is not seen in many Christians unfortunately.  They live with too many sins, they live with unconfessed sins.  They do not believe what God really says.  Do not live that kind of life, Christian friend.  Know that God’s specialty is forgiving the sinner and removing the sin.  He takes it away and casts it into the depths of the sea.

The great shepherd gave his life.  The great shepherd has been raised to live to provide for us newness of life.  And that brings us to the 4th and final message of this series.  It is the story of the chief shepherd.  As we think on these things done by the good shepherd by giving his life and the great shepherd in giving us the power to live a victorious life and equipping us with the desire to want it.  And the way to do the will of God.  That is the true measure of the new life isn’t it., doing God’s good and perfect will as Paul describes it.

Yet we still find ourselves in a world all around us that is in turmoil.  War, how many nations are at war as we speak today?  Strife among families, among political leaders, among schools, among educators, among scientists.  Wherever we go crime is rampant, murder is often a daily affair that you read about in the paper or hear on the news.  Sin of every kind by people who practice every kind of shameful things, done by our own flesh and blood.  Friends that can turn against us to live a life of sinfulness and draw away from the things of God.  Oh, we have seen that with families.  We have seen the heartbreak of the mothers and fathers who have seen the prodigal son go away to live for the devil himself.  We tend to despair.  We wonder is there really the abundant life, or the Christian that struggles to rise above his own weakness.  Is that the abundant life?

True Christian joy is sufficient enough to make us want this life even if nothing else ever came.  But one saying we have is, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  Poor English but it certainly has a point to be made.  For this is what the chief shepherd is going to provide for us.  Listen to the apostle give us this good news in First Peter 5:4. And when the chief shepherd shall be manifested you shall see the crown of glory and receive it yourself.  The chief shepherd will be manifested, he will be revealed, we will see him as he is.

And so, there is the job of this chief shepherd who gave us abundant life as the great shepherd, this Jesus who gave his life as the good shepherd, and now as the chief shepherd now wants to take us on to glory.  He returned for his own son as he promised you.  Remember he told his disciples in John 14.  I am going to prepare a place for you and if I go.  We could say since I am going to prepare a place for you.  I will come again to receive you unto myself.  Where I am you are going to be able to be as well.

And as Jesus ascended into heaven as recorded in the book of Acts 1:11. The angel spoke to the apostles as they lifted up their eyes and watched Jesus ascended into heaven.  And what did they tell them.  This same Jesus, not some other, not some false Jesus, this same Jesus will come in like manner as you have beheld him going into heaven.

The entirety of the book of First Thessalonians Paul has written this to the church in Thessalonica and they were struggling about what to do with those who had passed on.  Christians were worried about what is going to happen to them.  What’s going to happen to us?  So, they asked many questions.  And so, Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica.  You are to wait for his Son in heaven.  The one who was raised from the dead.  There can be no question.  Jesus will deliver us from the wraths to come.  My friends, listen carefully to me, this is not a pleasant thought but it is the truth.  God is a loving God but he hates sin.  Though God loves the sinner, if he will not bring the sin to Jesus for forgiveness he is under the wrath of God.  The first time Jesus came, he came as a babe in a manger.  But when he comes again he will come as a roaring lion bringing judgment and wrath to those who do not know God.

What a story it is in this episode as Paul talks about the coming of the Lord.  In the second chapter of his same book, verse 19 he says.  What is our hope, our joy, our crowned glory?  Are not even you before our Lord Jesus at his coming.  My friend will you not live the word of God sent to you.  These are not words that I concocted, I didn’t dream this up.  This comes from the very mind and heart of God and it is recorded for us that we someday might have this hope of one day being with Jesus.  He closes chapter 3 in this epistle to the end that you might establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.  All those saints that had died before, they are coming back with Jesus and together are going to raise us up alive, along with those bodies who are in the grave.  Raised to be with the Lord for all eternity. No wonder Paul says comfort one another with such good news as that.

He closes the epistle in chapter 5 in First Thessalonians with these words.  And the God of peace may sanctify you himself and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire when at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Here is this great God who provides peace, who will sanctify us, who will set us apart.  Our spirit, our soul, our body preserved until Jesus comes to receive it.  Are you aware that you have more than a body?  That you have a soul that will spend eternity somewhere.  Are you ready to present that body, soul, and spirit to the Lord Jesus?

And so, there is a return of this chief shepherd and what he goes on to say to us is there are great rewards available to those who come.  To those who await the coming of the Lord Jesus.  He will reward us richly.  The book of Timothy refers to that as he will do that to those who love his appearing.  The children of God love God.  They love Jesus.  They can hardly wait for him to come back.  Just like you have done when a loved one, husband, wife, father or child has been away and they are coming home and you have anxiously wait for that to happen.  Those who have by faith have accepted this life given by the good shepherd, have followed the instructions of the great shepherd to control their daily life.  There will surely be the desire for the coming of the chief shepherd.  Those that don’t want him to come know they are not ready for him to come.  A reward waits for those who are faithful followers of the Lord Jesus.  The apostle Peter says we will have an inheritance that is incorruptible and that is reserved and preserved in heaven for us.  What joyous news that is indeed.

I have chosen the passage of scripture I want to read at the conclusion of my life, when my body is laid to rest, if I die before Jesus comes.  Let me share it with you and you will understand why it is such a precious body of scripture to take to the grave.  Pau to the church in Titus says this in chapter 2.  For the grace of God has appeared.  Oh, my friend, God’s grace has appeared to me and I accepted it one day and he cleansed me from sin.  The verse continues, bringing salvation to all who will accept it.  Instructing us to this intent of denying ungodly living, worldly lust, and we would live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age.  When we are doing that we who are looking for the blessed hope and for the glory of the appearing of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.  Who gave himself for us that he might redeem us form all of our sinfulness and iniquity and purify us unto himself.  A people for his own possession, zealous for good works.

What a blessing this passage of scripture provides.  There will be the returning of this chief shepherd.
There will be rewards given to the followers of him who have been faithful.  Are you among these?  If not, will you please make things right between you and God.  And if you are a Christian living less than faithfully, it is my prayer that you will come, that you will return confessing that weakness and sin and let God bring you to a greater relationship with him.

So, we are left with only one thing.  There will be a return.  There will be rewards.  But there must be readiness for that reward and that return that is going to happen.  Do you know right now my friend, if Jesus came today, tonight, whenever, do you know indeed he will come and he will take you to be with him.  So that you can live in eternity with this great God and our Lord Jesus Christ.  I hope that is your experience.

Listen to the words the apostle Paul wrote to the same church in Thessalonica in the second letter he wrote in chapter 1 verses 6 thru 9.  Sobering words, would you listen to them carefully. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.

And those that do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  What is going to happen to them?  They will suffer punishment, even facing eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and the glory of his might.  Oh, what powerful but sad words: instead of rewards, instead of good things, instead of enjoying eternity, instead of spending eternity with Christ, instead of spending eternity in his presence with all the good things that come.  Great judgment comes upon those who are not faithful to the Lord.  This is why the good shepherd gave his life.  That is why the great shepherd was raised to newness of life provided for that we so very much need.  And faith in him is working and obedience to him guarantees that to us.

Are you ready, are you among the saved.  Oh, the strongest admonition regarding the readiness comes to the servants of God, to the Christian, to those that are already followers.  Over and over the Lord Jesus, as he got ready to leave this earth, in Matthew 24 And Matthew 25 he keeps repeating.  Be watchful, be ready, be looking.  Go read those chapters and look at the seriousness.  Is he your Lord?  Are you his servant?  Do you need the admonition today to be ready, to be watchful, to be looking, we do not know when?  We might see some things that indicate the coming is near, but we do not have when.  We must not take a chance with the greatest possession.  We have our very souls and so his very coming and God blessing us to be ready.  Christians unprepared for his coming.  Oh, how sad a statement that is to neglect to trust God for our victory in daily living.  To let his work, go undone because we are unfaithful in our service.  What a sad picture that paints to be sure.

In an English church many years ago, a Sunday School group was meeting in the church building and they were in a dark room, and there was a machine that they had a long time ago.  A Sterioptican it was called.  They would put pictures in the machine and it would flash the pictures a little bit larger upon the wall.  In this darkened room, the people were watching and they heard a knock at the door.  An usher went to answer the door and the man at the door said: Mary Jones has been lost, her family and friends have been looking for her and no one in the building responded.  And so, the lecture went on and when it was finished and the lights were turned on, Mary Jones was sitting on the front seat.  They said, Mary Jones they were looking for you, didn’t you hear that.  She said yes but they said Mary Jones was lost.  I am not lost.  I know where I am.  I knew where I was all the time.  I thought they were talking about some other Mary Jones.

My friends I am talking about you this morning.  Are you lost?  Do you need to get right with God?  Contact us.  Let us help you make that decision for Jesus is coming again it is sure.  Are you ready.  May God bless you is our prayer today.


                                              Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ in Bohon, KY.

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If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8