Daily Devotion - December 10, 2020 - The Shepherd Who Rescues

Pastor: Connie Belmore

Daily Devotion – December 10, 2020
Ezekiel 34:1-12
Weekly Theme: The Lord Is Coming
Today: The Shepherd Who Rescues

As we anticipate and wait for the birth of Christ, we probably have all been asked to give to many different worthwhile causes. As a church, Eureka UMC typically focuses during Advent on such ministries as Project Agape, the Pregnancy Center and, also look for families in need in our immediate community to lend a helping hand. We try to help those who are weak, who are sick and need healing, and those who are hungry, not just at Christmas but throughout the year. Sometimes, however, no matter how much we want to help, we may still be tempted to jump to judgment of those who are in need. We may find ourselves thinking or saying things like, “God helps those who help themselves”, or “I want to give but don’t trust that “they” will use the money wisely” or “I would go buy them some food, but they will just take the money I have given them and buy alcohol, cigarettes, etc.” The truth throughout the Bible is that we are to help those who are in need and leave the judging and convicting up to God about what they do with the ways and means we have offered.

In Ezekiel 34:1-12, the prophet makes it crystal clear that God warns those who have been feeding themselves, instead of feeding their flocks. He warns spiritual leaders who have not taken measures to strengthen those who are weak, heal those who are sick, bandage those who are injured, or brought back those who have strayed or are lost. This is also a warning for spiritual leaders who have not concerned themselves by searching and seeking those who are scattered and lost. God will take over the care of the scattered flocks and will rescue them and will furthermore prevent corrupt, greedy spiritual leaders from shepherding the flock. God promises to rescue the scattered on a day of clouds and total darkness.

In other words, God does not charge spiritual leaders to first assess and judge the situation of every person in need, judge them and force them to go somewhere else to look for food, healing, shelter, and care. He charges spiritual leaders of that day and us today, to notice those in need and supply their needs. When leaders do not fulfill the God-instructed calling to uphold justice, keep peace, punish evil but instead allow tyranny and greed and selfishness to prevail, God will deal with those leaders who do not carry out his agenda to rescue the lost, hungry, and scattered sheep. God’s agenda for spiritual leaders is for them to help those who are suffering and to prevent suffering.

During this season when we are encouraged to give, we should also assess how we are doing throughout the year in reaching those sheep who have left the fold, and those who are in need, and assess how we are responding to the church’s mission to go forth and make disciples of ALL nations (and ALL people within those nations) and to baptize them and teach them. We do not discriminate based on our gut feeling but respond as the Shepherd would respond. How are you and I doing in carrying out God’s agenda in this way? I don’t know about you, but I can certainly do better in responding to the needs of ALL people God places in my life.

Dear God, we thank you for the Scripture we might overlook sometimes because we cannot stand the guilt it brings into our heads and hearts. Help us to be ever mindful of those souls who have been scattered, who are weak, who need healing and who have been mistreated. And help us to have a heart of love, free of judgment as we respond to all people you place in our lives. Give us wisdom and discernment as we respond to your sheep. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

  August 2021  
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