On behalf of (spouse), and on behalf of the rest of the family, let me begin by thanking you for your display of care by being here this morning.
(Name) was not embarrassed when it came to his faith in Christ. From the jewelry he'd wear, to the way he decorated his house, both inside and out, (Name) wanted others to know where he stood in his relationship with Jesus Christ. He wanted others to know of his love for God's chosen people, the Jews, and his burning desire that they, along with all mankind, would each one come into a personal relationship with the "Eternal Most Gracious Heavenly Father."
(Name) loved God, and he loved God's Word. This morning I want to turn to one portion of Scripture which was especially meaningful to Him, and share with you in the way in which I believe (Name) would have me share. To use a phrase that's not original, I believe (Name) would desire that God's Word at this moment might comfort the afflicted, but also afflict the comfortable. Might we let God speak to each one of us from His Word.
The passage is found in the book bearing the name of the prophet Ezekiel, chapter 34.
In the first 11 verses, God uses the prophet to chastize the leaders of the nation for failing to lead the people rightly in their walk with Jehovah God. He suggests that they should have been shepherds, caring for God's flock, but instead had been feeding upon them for their own selfish gain.
Ultimately, God shares that HE would be a Shepherd to Israel.
God was speaking in this case, directly to His chosen people, the Jews. But, just as today, though, He does not simply care for people as a race, but as individuals. Listen to How He cares for individuals:
Ezekiel 34:16a I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, Just as real as God's care for individuals, so is His commitment to execute judgment. As a holy God, he will not tolerate sin. Listen to the scriptures as we continue in the same passage:
Verse 16b but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
Verse 17 "'As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats.
Verse 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?
Verse 19 Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
Verse 20 "'Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.
Verse 21 Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away,
Verse 22 I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another.
In verses 21-30, God is using Ezekiel to speak directly to the Jewish people. He says to them that there will be a time of difficulty for their disobedience and unbelief, but that He will remain faithful to His promises to restore them. This was one of many passages (Name) knew which declared God's love for and future plans for the Jewish people. But to all of us, God has spoken of:
1. His love and care for us, even individually. (Name) would want you to not miss the fact that God cares for you. Whatever your need, sorrow during these days, trouble tomorrow, God cares for you like a shepherd, and
2. He would not have us miss the fact that God in His justice will execute judgment. We need to each expect to face the living God.
He finished his message in Ezekiel 34 by stating:
Verse:31 "You, my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"
Briefly, I want to examine the New Testament, and see how Christ revealed Himself as a Shepherd to all who trust in Him.
John 10:11: "I am the good shepherd. . . . The good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep"
John 10:14: "and know my sheep, and am known of mine."
Hebrews 13:20: "Jesus, the GREAT shepherd of the sheep"
1 Peter 5:4: "And when the CHIEF shepherd shall appear."
(Name) loved His Shepherd. And His burning desire was that others would come to experience this same love relationship with His lord. (Name) was bold, albeit sometimes a little unorthodox in his desire to communicate God's love. I'm convinced he would have me challenge each of you here today, know God, and that is only possible as you trust Christ, the shepherd who gave His life for His sheep. Allow Him to be Master of your life. Submit to His ways, His leadership, and experience the joy of intimacy with the master.
Scriptures leave no room for doubt that those who trust in Christ as Savior, and follow Him as Lord, as (Name) did, are upon death in this life, ushered into the presence of their savior, to forever enjoy Him.
Might (Name)'s prayer be answered this morning, that God would comfort each who would trust in the Lord, for He is the loving shepherd who cares for His sheep.