Faith Begets Healing, Which Begets Still More Faith

This week’s ongoing Biblical Study series on the Social Gospel Blog with Minister Paul J. Bern will be part 1 of Luke chapter 7; “Jesus and His Miraculous Healing Was So Great That Even John the Baptist Asked Him For Clarification” https://greatestservant62.medium.com/we-must-never-back-away-or-shrink-back-from-our-faith-since-it-can-heal-us-688a4500227a #socialgospel # Miracles #healing #realfaith #JesusChrist #truth

Holiday Fundraiser Now Being Offered for a Limited Time, Exclusively On E-bay

One of a kind 3 Volume Set of Biblical Teaching Series taught from a modern 21st century perspective, offered exclusively on E-bayhttp://ebay.us/yT31Wk?cmpnId=5338273189 #SocialGospel #modernChristian #progressiveChristianity #therealBible #ChristianBlogs

Part 2 of How Not to Take Care of the Earth, and the Ultimate Fate of Those Who Pillage the Planet (75th Anniversary Commemorative of the Atomic Attack on Japan)

Lessons From the Ongoing Fukushima, Japan Disaster On How Not To Take Care of the Earth

by Minister Paul J. Bern

God_is_enough For this week’s commentary I have decided to post a follow-up to last week’s message about the 75th anniversary of the dual atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. I don’t usually do this, but since this an anti-war ministry, and since the response to last week’s anti-war message was nearly 100% positive, I have composed this supplemental message as a follow-up. I would suggest that the reader go back and read the first posting (it’s about a 5-minute read) in the link above before continuing. Thanks to all of you, I love my readers so much! But now, let me move on to this week’s topic – what happens to the earth’s environment when nuclear power is used as an energy source?

 

The worst nuclear disaster to strike Japan since the 2nd atomic bomb fell over Nagasaki in 1945 occurred in the spring of 2011 at the Fukushima, Japan nuclear power plant, following the epic earthquake and tsunami centered in northeast Japan. Earlier this week the New York Times reported the disturbing news that a wide area around the Fukushima plant “could soon be declared uninhabitable, perhaps for decades, after a government survey found radioactive contamination that far exceeded safe levels. The formal announcement, expected from the government in coming days, would be the first official recognition that the March accident could force the long-term depopulation of communities near the plant, an eventuality that scientists and some officials have been warning about for months.” Just two weeks ago, it was reported that radiation readings at the site had reached their highest points to date. The wide release of radiation, and fear of same, has forced the Japanese and others all over the world to reflect on what happened to the country in 1945, and the continuing threat of nuclear weapons and energy today.

 

 

In its main story marking the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombings back in August 2011, the Times highlighted the new activism of survivors of the bombing (the “hibakusha”) this year; campaigning against nuclear power, which has provided most of their country’s energy needs. No one in the world can relate to the fears of a wide populace terrified that they (and perhaps the unborn) may be tainted forever by exposure to airborne radiation. One may ask how it is possible that Japan, after its experience with the atomic bombings, could allow itself to draw so heavily on the same nuclear technology for the manufacture of about a third of its energy. There was resistance, much of it from Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors. But there was also a pattern of denial, cover-up and cozy bureaucratic collusion between industry and government, the last especially notorious in Japan but by no means limited to that country.

 

 

Sumiteru Taniguchi, now 82 and currently director of the Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors Council, recently commented, “when the conversation turns to the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, it is as if the floodgates open,” Taniguchi said. “Nuclear power and mankind cannot coexist. We survivors of the atomic bomb have said this all along. And yet, the use of nuclear power was camouflaged as ‘peaceful’ and continued to progress. You never know when there’s going to be a natural disaster. You can never say that there will never be a nuclear accident.” Taniguchi is perhaps the main iconic symbol of the “hibakusha” today, thanks to footage of him taken after the bombing, showing him, months after the attack, still on a floor, spread-eagled, his entire back an open wound, flaming red. It was part of footage shot by a US film crew, and suppressed for decades.

 

 

In April, 2011, five survivors’ organizations, including Taniguchi’s Nagasaki group, submitted a statement to the Japanese government declaring the collapse of the “safety myth” around nuclear power. This included a demand for change in the government’s energy policy to prevent creating any more “hibakusha”. Their statement further demanded that it distribute health record booklets — similar to the ones that are distributed to atomic bomb victims and can be used as proof of radiation exposure — to nuclear power plant workers and residents living close to them, and also provide periodic health examinations to those populations. It is a well-hidden fact (thanks to the lame stream media) that numerous A-bomb survivors over the decades sought help from the government after falling ill or suffering cancer and other diseases, allegedly from radiation exposure, but by many accounts had been abandoned. Will the people who are suffering from invisible dangers in Fukushima be subjected to the same treatment? If that’s the way things turn out in Japan, the Japanese people will surely rise up and demand government intervention – or do the job themselves.

 

 

As I write this, Japan and TEPCO, the Japanese utility company that has been in charge of this ever-widening disaster, are making futile attempts to stop the gushing leakage of some 400 tons of radioactive seawater that is coming from the three melted-down reactors each day. That’s right, everyone, 400 tons a day of radioactive sea water is flowing unabated into the northwest portion of the Pacific ocean. The entire northern Pacific ocean is now contaminated by this radioactive seawater. It will remain this way for a very long time afterward – decades at the very least.

Contrast this to God’s original instructions that he gave to us at the creation of the earth: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’.” (Genesis chapter 1, verses 26-28)

 

 

The book of Revelation states quite clearly what will ultimately happen to those who pollute the earth, such as what happened at Chernobyl, Russia in the 1980’s and in 2011 at Fukushima, Japan. “And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth(Revelation chapter 11, verses 16-18)

 

 

When it comes to nuclear issues — from atomic weapons to nuclear power — no two nations could be more irrevocably intertwined than Japan and the US. After the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, despite dissenting voices of some of its own citizens, America drew mostly wrong conclusions as it plunged into nuclear expansion. There was a relentless public relations campaign — unleashed by the Truman administration almost within hours of the Hiroshima bombing — that led to the erroneous conclusion that blinded the Americans (and later the Japanese) to the insidious, long-term damage of radiation. Prominent journalists and media outlets of the time embraced, with enthusiasm, the so-called “Dawn of the Atomic Age” and America fell into a kind of nuclear entrapment that is with us to this day.

 

 

America needs to repent, but the government would never do this voluntarily. And so, if we the American people – those of us who are sick and tired of all the wars overseas and the profligate spending by the Pentagon – will have to make this a bottom-up repentance of war and killing. Most importantly, we must also get out in the streets and protest, demanding an end of the US military-industrial complex, so all American citizens can begin turning our planes and aircraft carriers, and especially all the nuclear armaments, into scrap.

The Modern Churches, Particularly In and Around North America, Are a Far Cry From the Early Churches In the 1st Century A.D.

This Is What An Authentic 21st Century Church Is Supposed to Look Like

(1st Corinthians chapter 12, verses 14-31)

social-gospel-vol 3 Paul

Today I will conclude chapter 12 of 1st Corinthians in my ongoing blog about the writings of the apostles (to get a copy, visit this link, guaranteed virus-free). Last week in part 1, you will recall how the apostle Paul was explaining to the 1st century church at Corinth about the many different functions of various church members, and how they are interrelated to one another. He described the gifts of the Spirit as they are applied to the various church members, with no one gift being more important than any other. In the conclusion of chapter 12, the apostle Paul compares the church to the human body as he analogizes the two. So let’s start up where we left off last week, beginning in verse 14.

“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body’, it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts but one body.” (1st Corinthians 12, verses 14-20)

Now let’s go back to last week’s study for just a minute. You will recall Paul the apostle naming the “gifts of the Spirit” as being wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues (other languages), and the interpretation of tongues. When taking them in context like I am doing in the above Scripture, it is clear that Paul meant multiple things are happening all at the same time within the true Church – the one that’s not a corporation or a social club. Not everybody can be a pastor, or an elder, or a deacon; not everybody can have gifts of healing and of miraculous powers, nor do all speak in tongues, or interpret, and not all prophesy either. But each part within the church is absolutely indispensable to each other, and each part is an essential part of the whole body of Christ’s church. And, as Paul the apostle wrote, the various parts of the body of Christ are arranged exactly as God wants them to be. That is all part of His good, pleasing and perfect plan for each of us, according to his most excellent will. Let us now continue at verse 21.

“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’. And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’. On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1st Corinthians 12, verses 21-26)

Each part of the true Church of Jesus Christ is interdependent on one another, and all work in unison for the edification of that Church. There is no such thing as a one-man band in authentic Christianity, but instead the church possesses a “team spirit” that is Spiritual in nature. And there is total equality among the membership so that “its parts should have equal concern for each other”. And so we see that, in the spirit of true Christianity, everyone has an equal standing within Christ’s church, and no one is higher or better than anyone else. This is why equal protection under the law is part of the US legal code passed by Congress back in 1965. It is based on the Bible, as Rev. Dr. King correctly pointed out repeatedly during the civil rights era, prior to and in the days leading up to the day of his assassination.

I have one more comment about this passage before I move on. Paul wrote in verse 22 above, “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we think are less honorable we treat with special honor”. The work of those within the Church who are weaker, presumably meaning those persons of lesser stature either because they are new or because they have spiritual or personal issues they are working out, counts for just as much as a long-time member who has grown strong in his or her relationship with Christ. There is no such thing as a pecking order or a hierarchy in a church filled with true followers of Christ. Authority is distributed laterally among the membership, and Christ is the sole head of the church.

And then there is the part about those who “we think are less honorable, we (should) treat with special honor”. Remember what Jesus said in the four Gospels about, “Those who put themselves first will be last, but the last will be first”, and again when Jesus said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted”? Jesus was clearly referring to the rich and the poor, and to those in positions of power and influence, and to those who crave it. And so the parts of the church, the very poorest and most insignificant members of the church, who seem to be the least ‘honorable’, should be treated with special honor.

Social and economic position count for nothing in the true Church, but passion for Christ is everything. If any of us should die tomorrow, we can’t take anything with us. Our cars, clothes, furniture, houses (if you are lucky enough to still own one of those), our jobs and all our friends and loved ones are going to be left behind when we go home to be with the Lord forever. In the end, our relationship with Jesus Christ is the only thing that will remain of what we once were. It is that very relationship that sets apart God’s people from the rest of humanity. And now allow me to wrap up the remainder of today’s study.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.” (1st Corinthians 12, verses 27-31)

Each member of the Body of Christ has their function, and it will invariably be the one thing that they do best within the overall structure of the Church. The best way to find out what your ministry is, or what function you serve for the glory of Jesus, is to first pray about it. Assume nothing, and do nothing on your own that you have not prayed about previously. In other words, don’t do anything without talking to God about it first unless you are absolutely sure that your will and God’s will are synchronous. God will open the right door for you, he will do so at precisely the right time, and He will do it in the right church.

So if you find yourself in a church where there does not seem to be any place where you can be a helping member, or even where you fit in for that matter, this is a sign that you need to look elsewhere for a church you can call home. Keep seeking and let God show you the way. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to where you belong, because if it worked just fine for me, then it will for you too. In the meantime, follow the apostle Paul’s advice and “eagerly desire the greater gifts” of the Spirit. God has the perfect place for you in his Church, and the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected is what allows us to have this special relationship with Him. No one place within the church is more important or valuable than any other, nor is any one single person, not even the pastor. No matter what Spiritual gift you may have, it all counts equally as much in the true church of Christ. And if it counts equally within Christ’s church, then all is equal in the sight of God. In next week’s study, we’ll be moving on to chapter 13, ‘the love chapter’.

Revisiting the Past Sins of the Military-Industrial Complex, and What the Bible Has to Say About It

On the 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, It Is Fitting That We Revisit This Horrendous Anniversary

by Minister Paul J. Bern

On this poignant anniversary of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan at the end of World War 2, it’s very important that all Americans have a day of mourning for being the nation that launched the atomic age. The worldwide proliferation of nuclear weaponry started with the US. So, in keeping with this anniversary, I think it’s time to revisit this 5-year-old Web posting from my own archives. I also wish to do something I forgot to do when this was first posted back in 2015 – I want to apologize to all my Japanese readers, all of whom lost relatives in the war.

The Nuclear Genie Is Out of the Bottle, and It’s America’s Fault

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

stopping_war On July 16th, 1945, the ‘Trinity’ nuclear test here in the United States plunged humanity into the Atomic Age. The first-ever nuclear bomb was detonated in New Mexico, at the Alamogordo Test Range. Within just days, the first nuclear bomb ever used in wartime was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, and a second one was dropped on Nagasaki less than two weeks after that. In the first blast at Hiroshima, well over 100,000 people were instantly vaporized in the initial explosion, and the death toll at Nagasaki was tens of thousands higher. Over the next month or so, over a million more individuals died from the aftereffects of radiation poisoning.

But, what is generally not known – especially here in America with its propaganda machine otherwise known as our “free press” – is that the US use of nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War 2 was unnecessary. Let’s not forget that the winners of wars are the ones who write the history books, and the US is no exception. The fact of the matter is that by the summer of 1945, Japan had already been bombed back to the stone age. In point of fact, Japan was already attempting to start negotiating for peace. But the Japanese wanted to do it secretly, so as to not alarm the Japanese people (sound familiar?), and US military leaders wanted the announcement to be public. And so the die was cast, and the rest is history.

In the late 1940’s Josef Stalin, Russia’s leader and dictator at the time, acquired an atomic weapon through quite a lot of espionage, much to the discredit of America’s “intelligence” community. As a response, the US supplied England and France with the technology and experience needed to build a few bombs of their own. By this time it was the 1950’s, and within just a few years Communist China developed their first atomic weapons. By the 1960’s, other countries such as Israel, India and Pakistan had nukes as well. The genie was out of the bottle, and there was no putting it back. It was too late. And it all started with one nuclear test in the New Mexico desert in 1945. I have been studying up on this as of late, knowing that we are living in the End Times, and that the world as we have known it is drawing rapidly to a close.

Speaking as a minister who openly stands against war and killing, the one verse I have found that corresponds to these times and the accompanying nuclear proliferation can be found in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, chapter 7 and verse 7, which reads as follows: “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast – terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.

To put this into context, Daniel had a vision in chapter seven where he saw four “beasts” come up out of the sea. The sea in Bible prophecy usually always symbolizes all the nations of the world. The first was like a lion, but it had eagle’s wings. What country uses a lion as its symbol? Great Britain. The eagle’s wings, then, represent America, whose symbol is an eagle, and who is an offshoot of the former British Empire. OK, so what’s the second one, you ask? The second beast Daniel saw in his vision looked like a bear. What country uses a bear as its national symbol? Russia. And Daniel’s third beast looked like a leopard, which symbolizes Germany.

The fourth beast which is unlike all the rest could only be the United States, since it has the most powerful military force in human history. But what do the ten horns represent? Could they be nuclear powers? According to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), nine nations — the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possess approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons in total. This is an obscenity because it’s enough atomic power to blow up every city on the planet several dozen times over. But it’s even more than an obscenity, it is utter madness and insanity. The whole world has been hijacked by madmen!

But still, that’s only nine countries that have nukes, so who’s the tenth one, the one that completes the symbolism of Daniel’s ten horns that he saw on the fourth beast? It has got to be Iran, there is no other explanation that I can think of, at least for now. No other country is as close to developing a bomb as Iran, everybody knows that. But this is a prophecy that has yet to come to pass. But you can all be sure that this will be happening in the near future, no doubt about it. And once it does, Daniel’s prophecy about the beast with the ten horns will be fulfilled.

Since the British Empire and two world wars that were initiated in part by Germany have come and gone, this is the only part of this prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled. Once that happens, once Iran gets its hands on its first nuclear weapons – which is only a matter of time – the prophecy will be fulfilled and the stage will be set for world war three, which will be a brief but exceptionally deadly nuclear exchange (more on that in a separate message later). If it involves Iran and Israel as I suspect, then surely America and Russian will become involved sooner or later. And that’s when world war three will really start in earnest. It’s all getting very close now. Prepare yourselves accordingly if you have not yet done so. We are just about out of time.

The Spiritual Gifts of Old Have Remarkable Similarities to the Social Gospel of Today

Spiritual Gifts and Modern Christianity

(1st Corinthians chapter 12, verses 1-13)

blessed are the poor

Continuing onward today in our ongoing study of the apostle Paul’s 1st letter to the 1st century Corinthian church, let’s move on to chapter 12. I’ll be going over the first half of chapter 12 today, and we’ll get into detail on the second half next week due to the very important and highly significant subject matter contained herein. Let’s begin right away with verse 1: “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed’, and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’, except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” (1st Cor. 12, verses 1-6)

Paul the apostle starts off by reminding the Corinthians how far they had come from a spiritual standpoint. They had gone from being pagans, worshiping gods of wood and stone, to born-again Christians, saved by the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. What a quantum leap these Corinthians had made in the Spirit! In this there is good news for all of us; that is, anyone who can say without hesitation, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior”, or, “I worship Jesus as the Son of God”, knows immediately that they have the Holy Spirit living within them. Otherwise, they could not utter these words and really mean it. And if they didn’t mean it, others will know it because it will be self-evident. Paul goes on to make the comparison that as surely as there are manifestations of the Holy Spirit within widely varied types of individuals, in the same way there are widely varied signs of the fruit of that same Spirit exhibited within each and every one of us. Paul then goes on to name the different fruits of the Spirit.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1st Cor. 12, verses 7-11)

You will notice that Paul names nine different gifts of the Holy Spirit. These different gifts are diverse enough that anyone who is a true follower of Christ Jesus can pick one and begin to pray directly to Jesus for that particular gift, whatever it may be. No special talent or innate ability is required. That’s exactly why all can participate. That’s the first nugget of truth that we can extract from Paul’s writing. In the family of God, nobody gets left out. Everyone participates and benefits equally without exception. So pick a gift, any gift that you think best matches your abilities in the Spirit, and begin to exercise it. If you seem to get off to a slow start at first, don’t let that deter you. Keep practicing, because you know that practice makes perfect.

Remember that you won’t be going it alone, for the Spirit of the Lord will be with you, and He will stay with you because He is dwelling within you. God is very willing to give you supernatural ability in the Spirit that will cause you to excel in an area where you may not have been able to previously. I know this to be true because it has worked for me in the past, and if I can do it then so can you. Let’s go through these nine gifts one at a time.

The first is the “message of wisdom”. Do not mistake formal education, or human intelligence, or any person’s IQ, for what the apostle Paul calls “the message of wisdom”. The 3 things I just mentioned are all carnal in nature, being of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. “Wisdom”, from Paul’s viewpoint then, is spiritual wisdom, a wisdom gained from a lifetime of experience gained from constant devotion to Christ. The “message of wisdom”, then, is a gift generally reserved for the clergy, or for those in academia, but also for older people like myself who have been around the block a time or two, and who have gained wisdom from many years of experience, sometimes even by trial and error. This type of deep and lengthy experience should never be underestimated. When one learns their life lessons the hard way, one tends to learn them quite well, and I’m speaking here from experience.

The second spiritual gift is the “message of knowledge”. Like the ‘message of wisdom’ above, the ‘message of knowledge’ is about spiritual matters rather than knowledge of this world. The message of knowledge can be interpreted here as having extensive knowledge of the Word of God, and this can only be accomplished through years of study. Pastors and those who teach Bible studies have this gift, and it is an honorable thing to use this, or any of these gifts, to one’s utmost for the love of Jesus.

The third spiritual gift is faith. Faith is a gift most often bestowed unto prayer warriors and prayer partners, and to those with gifts of healing (more on that one shortly). Faith is also a very good starting point for new believers as they build their new-found faith in Christ. It is something very good and valuable to hold onto while deciding which one of the 9 spiritual gifts is best for the individual believer. That also includes having Spiritual faith as the chosen gift of the new believer. This is how we exercise our faith as we explore the gifts of the Spirit so that we may discover which gift best suits each of us according to the talents and abilities of the believer.

I will comment only briefly on the next two, ‘gifts of healing’ and ‘miraculous powers’. While these gifts have existed since the time of Christ and His apostles, there are those “healers” today who claim to have these powers, but in reality they are fierce predators. They continue to “heal” people on TV as they charge them for the privilege while broadcasting the results of their “work”. But Jesus warned us about this when He walked the earth, as it is written: “Jesus answered, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name proclaiming, ‘I am the Christ’, and will deceive many.” (Matt. 24, verses 4-5) Further down in this same chapter Jesus adds, “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert’, do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms, do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man”. (Matt. 24, verses 26-27)

I’m not saying miraculous healing doesn’t exist. As a matter of fact I think it does. All I am saying is that, based on what I have seen on the ‘Christian television’ stations, one should approach what is being taught and what you are seeing with a critical mind, using the Bible as a reference manual for what is on your screen. That is the one sure way to keep oneself from being deceived. Discern for yourselves what is genuine or what is phony. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit has already given you this power. Use it judiciously.

The next gift Paul mentions is that of prophecy. Prophecy means to literally proclaim the Word of God while applying it to events from the past, present and future. Evangelists, for example, most often have the gift of prophecy as their spiritual gift, but anyone can have this gift. I once met a Texas housewife who had this gift while having never studied in a seminary, so God can bestow it upon anyone he chooses.

The seventh gift Paul mentions is the gift of ‘distinguishing between spirits’, and he is not talking about a medium at a seance. Distinguishing between spirits also has nothing to do with judging people, so be sure and not fall into that trap. As you have probably guessed, ‘distinguishing between spirits’ is done in the Spirit of Christ, not in the flesh or through intellectual capability. It is a spiritual distinction one can make through a supernatural gift of identifying different types of spirits, mainly being able to separate bad from good, but also as a way to distinguish hidden motives and concealed agendas within otherwise “nice” people.

The last 2 spiritual gifts are speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues. Speaking in tongues simply means to be able to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in any foreign language in a supernatural way, while having no specific knowledge of that language. Those who interpret those tongues are the ones who are translating the unknown tongue being spoken back into the native language of the hearer for the edification of that church or group. This spiritual gift exists so that the gospel can be preached in every language on the face of the earth. It is common for missionaries to have the gift of speaking in tongues, or of the interpretation of tongues.

A word of caution here – there are churches that teach that speaking in tongues is the best evidence that believers have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, as if this particular gift is the one that matters most (or worse yet, that it is the only one that matters). If you find yourself in a church that teaches that speaking in tongues is the only, or the primary, evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, get out of there immediately. I won’t name names, but they are a single-minded denomination bordering on a cult, and as such they are not teaching the whole truth, so it would be wise to not associate with them. Remember that even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light. Paul finishes his train of thought by comparing the human body to the church. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1st Cor. 12, verses 12-13)

We are all within the body of Christ, which is His church, but we all serve various functions within that Body. Our diverse gifts of the Spirit, which God gives to everyone, make up the different functions of the greater Church. Not everyone can be a pastor, or a teacher, and not everyone is called to be only one thing, all except for prayer. Prayer, my dear readers, is mandatory for all serious believers. We can’t have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ unless we pray to Him daily. How can we have a personal relationship with Jesus unless we talk to Him? There are also those who have multiple gifts, such as music and dance, and others who focus on a specific ministry, such as missionaries. But instead, in the kingdom of God, everyone does one thing and does it well (even if it’s just being an usher), and all the various functions and ministries that are being performed coordinate together to form the living body that is Christ’s church. As the old song goes, “we are one in the Spirit, we are one with the Lord”, and that sums up His church very well. And next week we’ll finish chapter 12. Until then, be blessed in Jesus’ holy name!

Weekly Biblical study series on WordPress with Minister and Author Paul J. Bern

On the Origins of Church Services and Its Meaning, and Why It Still Matters Today

(1st Corinthians chapter 11, verses 17-34)

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Last week when we left off at verse 16, I made some concluding remarks about the timelessness of Jesus Christ and his 3.5-year ministry on this earth. Much has changed since the time He walked the earth, but Christ never changes, he has always remained constant. This week as we take up where we left off, I will now continue with this week’s study series by returning to the verse-by-verse teaching that you all have become used to, beginning at verse 17.

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! For I received of the Lord what I already passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me’. In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying,’ This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me’. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1st Corinthians chapter 11, verses 17-26)

Let me stop at this point and give a little cultural and historical perspective on what Paul is writing about. First of all, we must understand that Jesus Christ walked the earth as a Jewish man, and consequently the vast majority of new converts in the early church were mostly Jewish as well. It was actually Paul the apostle that first brought the message of salvation through Christ to non-Jews, first in ancient Israel and soon after to Greece and what is now modern-day Turkey, and ultimately to Rome, capital of the infamous empire of its day that could arguably be called the world’s first superpower like the USA is today. The Jews of that time had a time-honored tradition that dated all the way back to the time of Moses. They would gather together on the Sabbath and have a celebratory banquet similar to pot-luck dinners today. The Jewish term for this celebration is “Shabbot”, and this tradition is still celebrated today in synagogues the world over, as well as no small number of Christian churches such as this who embrace the Spiritual connection between Christianity and Judaism.

In the time of the early church, there were a lot of poor and destitute persons, many of whom did not always have enough to eat. Besides coming to worship the Prince of Peace, there can be no doubt that they looked forward to attending Shabbot on the sabbath because this was one day out of the week when they knew they could get a pretty good meal. Based on what Paul wrote in this passage, the services in that day and time must have been pretty rowdy by today’s standards, and some believers were apparently far more devout than others. People would show up before the service began, eat up all the food and drink up all the wine and then leave, when in fact the feast did not begin until after the service was over, as well it should.

This is what Paul meant when he wrote, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?” It’s pretty clear that Paul was upset with these people who showed callous disregard for the sacredness of the celebration. Paul then reminds them in no uncertain terms of why they gather together to commemorate the Last Supper, and he scolds them for having no appreciation for this solemn occasion, and for total contempt towards those in attendance who were less fortunate. He then finishes making his point beginning in verse 27 while giving the Corinthian church a very stern warning (as well he should have).

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it does not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.” (1st Corinthians 11, verses 27-34)

Going to church, whether it is to have a service, revival, or a pot-luck dinner, is a solemn and momentous occasion. Going to church is not so much a religious obligation as it is a celebration of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Let us therefore examine ourselves to keep from coming under God’s judgment so we will not be “condemned with the world”. When our physical lives on earth are over – and everybody has their time, including me – we look forward to spending an eternity with our Lord and Savior in heaven, remembering that we would not be there if it weren’t for Him. The time to begin preparing for this is now. Worshiping God is serious business.

Church is not a social club, or just a nice place to network or to sneak a peek at the opposite sex, and it most definitely is not a fashion show like I mentioned in part 1 of this study. Worshiping Jesus Christ is a sacred and highly spiritual co-mingling with Him, and it isn’t always done in church. I pray every day, sometimes at home, sometimes on the bus or the subway, or when I am walking down the street. I can take my church with me everywhere I go if I want to. After all, since Jesus – and the guardian angels that He surrounds me with – is always with me, it seems fitting and proper that I should want to reciprocate. And so should the rest of us.

Corruption in Government, Corruption in Churches, and I Can’t Decide Which Is Worse

When Authority Becomes Corrupted, That’s When Almighty God Himself Will Intervene to Take Charge

(Part 2 of 2; Ezekiel chapter 34, verses 20-27)

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This week’s commentary will be part 2 of my comparison of Ezekiel 34 to modern Christian churches and all their various denominations. As you recall from last week’s message, the Lord Almighty sees all the corruption in our governments, from the chief executive all the way down to the lowliest undersecretary or custodian. We can all do better than what we’re currently doing, although many are doing better than some others. While some may be adamant about exercising their right to refuse to wear a mask, others are just as adamant about being protective by wearing masks. To top it all off, the one remaining place that should be a shelter from the disasters all around us – all the various church denominations – have been turned into little more than entertainment venues.

In last week’s commentary I lamented to a great extent about the state of modern churches and that of its pastors as they (supposedly) minister to their ‘flocks’. Unfortunately, due to what is often viewed as lax leadership, these pastors, bishops, evangelists, deacons and what-not, these various church denominations are ruling over congregations that have strange teachings and customs, odd ways of dressing, and whose leadership is rife with corruption. In vases like this, and especially during the last days, the risen Spirit of the Blessed Savior will intervene, as we will now see. So let’s all take up where we left of last week, in the 34th chapter of Chronicles, beginning with verse 20.

20) Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21) Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, 22) I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23) I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24) I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.(Chronicles 34: 20-24)

As you saw in verse 20, not all the sheep of the flock were getting their needs met. That’s because too many other “sheep” were getting more than their fair share, and that always includes the pastor and those in positions of leadership. In a truly Christ-centered ministry, the pastor gets the leftovers. They come last because the rest of the ‘flock’ is supposed to come first. As we move on to verse 21, we see that God also sees that all of the above is being done at the expense of those less fortunate, remarkably similar to the massive inequality we see all around us today. This includes all the internal politicking that goes on inside church walls, and not just the government. All of the above are in places of leadership, and it is those who abuse that power who are the ones causing all the problems. In verse 23, the name ‘David’ is used interchangeably for Jesus. He will be – or actually has been, since these words were written down about 2,700 years ago – the ultimate Shepherd for a chosen flock. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them.” The ‘servant Prince’ is none other than Jesus Christ himself.

And now let’s conclude this week’s commentary in Chronicles 34: “25) I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety. 26) I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. 27) The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them.“

In verse 25, we have a prophecy with a double meaning. The Book of Ezekiel was written roughly 550 years before the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. At the time this was written, the Hebrew nation was in captivity in Babylon, in what would be modern Iraq and Iran. A “covenant of peace with them” referred to the Hebrew nation’s Babylonian captors and their relations with its neighbor, the Israeli nation. It prophecies a time in Israel’s future when she would be free again. Fast forward to the last 7 decades, and we find the founding of the new nation of Israel in May of 1948. So it can be said that these verses prophesy the return from Babylon and the rebuilding of Israel, and particularly the Temple there, roughly 60-70 years into the future at the time this was originally written.

But still other scholars point to these verses as being a prophecy of the founding of the state of Israel in modern times. The thing is, nobody really knows for sure, and that includes myself. In the following verse, “I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing”, the city of Israel was built on a hilltop, so that’s what it’s referring to, but only if you’re on the side of those scholars who say this is a prophecy of the founding of the modern Israel. In verse 27, “….the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them”.

Enslavement, once again, could equal captivity in Babylon, but more likely it is modern economic slavery that is the reference point here. That economic slavery is known as capitalism – debt. Besides, with human trafficking being outlawed nearly everywhere, it is much easier to simply traffic in money than in human beings. I have written extensively on the topic of debt being the moral equivalent to modern slavery in the past. Please visit my archives at https://medium.com/@greatestservant62 for lots of good postings on this topic, plus many more as well. For myself at least, mortgages, student loans and credit cards are the 3 main offenders. If you want to be totally free, walk away from your debts and wise up!

So this concludes the commentaries from the last 2 weeks on corruption in modern churches. Be sure and watch for next week’s commentary, or you can get a (temporarily free) subscription by going to https://www.authorrevpauljbern.com, then scroll down to the bottom right, and clicking on the ‘subscription box to send. See you next week, and watch for my Biblical study series around the latter part of this week, usually by Friday.

The Only Man Who Ever Lived Who Remains Unchanged Is the Man of Glory, Jesus Christ

Of Changes In Values Across the Spans of Time, and How Jesus Remains Constant Through It All

(1st Corinthians chapter 11, verses 1-16)

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For this week’s Biblical teaching series on the writings of the apostles Luke and Paul, I will be continuing to focus on the promotion of Jesus Christ and his agenda, which is to reach out across the Web and help save souls through this little on-line church. I am personally bound and determined to get the message of eternal salvation of the souls of those persons on the Internet who would normally not be found in traditional churches or their respective denominations. We all have so little time left before His return, which is why the message I am passing along today has such urgency.

The world as we have known it is dying from rampant pollution, pointless wars that have no end, overpopulation, potentially catastrophic climate change, and the overuse and misallocation of natural resources. And so it is time for all of us to get our minds off all the negative forces that make up our dying world, and to begin to focus on and engage with the forces of good. In so doing, the best way to begin to do this is to focus our hearts and minds on Jesus Christ, whose Spirit causes us to rise up and stand against the forces of evil. That brings me to the topic of 1st Corinthians chapter 11, which delves into what is fitting and proper in the course of worshiping Christ, who is the world’s only remaining Hope. This is the first of a 2 part series.

I’m going to skim through the first 13 verses of chapter 11 without much comment due to some rather antiquated concepts about dress and personal grooming taught from a 1st century perspective. The most important is verse 1, which simply says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”, and this is timeless advice any way you look at it. We learn to follow the example of Christ by reading his Word and putting it into practice, and this should be an ongoing practice for everyone because faith in Jesus is serious business, especially in a world where we are surrounded by evil and deceit.

Paul then writes in verse 3, “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God”. Although these values were very relevant when the apostle Paul first wrote them 2,000 years ago, the part that says, “the head of every woman is man” is no longer true in today’s world. Modern values dictate that men and women are equals and that there is parity between the two genders. Such thinking as this would have been considered heretical in Paul’s time, and anyone convicted of heresy always got the death penalty.

I grew up in a household where the father totally dominated everything and everybody else, both inside and outside the marriage and the family. The end result was a dysfunctional family that was ruled by fear and intimidation instead of by love and unity as it should have been. In short, the relationship between the father and the other family members was abusive. Abusiveness and domestic violence such as what I experienced when I was growing up simply have no place in any household, and that is doubly true for a Christian household, regardless of church membership or denomination. And so I have seen this precept misused by “religious” people over and over again (“spare the rod, spoil the child”).

Jesus does not rule over us by domination and control, He does so out of love, grace and mercy (“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”). The remainder of these first 13 verses is where Paul the apostle writes, mainly from his own viewpoint, about the type of dress right down to the length and style of the believer’s hair. Very seldom will you see me disagree with anything in the Bible, but this is one of those rare exceptions. Paul even got into whether or not people should cover their heads during prayers (as if that still matters).

It is common to see me in church wearing casual clothes such as cargo shorts in the summer (it gets plenty hot in the summer here in Atlanta where I live) or jeans in the winter. I find it most unfortunate that some churches use these verses in 1st Corinthians 11 as an excuse to dress up like they are going to a fashion show instead of to a house of worship. I have been in churches where men and women alike were wearing literally thousands of dollars in high-end clothing and jewelry, and these types of people invariably sneer at those who can’t afford to dress as they do. Remember what Jesus said when he was teaching in the temple at Jerusalem, and I paraphrase: ‘it matters a lot more what is on the inside of a believer than what is on the outside.’ External appearances don’t count for very much in the Church of the last days before His return. God is far more interested in the state of our souls than in the state of our wardrobe.

The apostle Paul seems to at least attempt to clarify this when he wrote in verses 11 and 12, “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” In the following verse Paul further clarifies, 13) Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14) Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15) but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16) If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

It is difficult to tell whether Paul is offering this as a continuation of his train of thought in the previous verses, or that it is a caveat for the same. Customs for dress and personal care are radically different today than they were back in the First Century. In today’s world, there is far more freedom of expression than there was back then. Verse 16 is particularly telling with respect to the mores and customs of centuries ago. Personally, I do not believe that long-haired men or short haired women will get sent to hell for their hairstyles any more than I believe people who don’t listen to religious music will be condemned to hell for their musical tastes.

It is at this point where we are near the middle of this week’s lesson, that I think would be a good place to pause for the sake of brevity. First Corinthians chapter 11 has 34 verses in it, so there is no way I can do justice to this chapter by cramming it all into one lesson. So everyone please be sure and return at this time next week for Part 2 of this installment of the Social Gospel Learning Series. Until then, everyone take good care.

Modern Church Leaders Are to Blame for the Declining Interest in Christianity

Millenials Have Little or No Interest in Christianity. Modern Church Leadership Is To Blame, and I Have Found Bible Prophecy About Why It’s the Leadership’s Fault

(Ezekiel chapter 34, verses 1-16; part 1 of 2)

by Minister Paul J. Bern

dead-men-in-pulpits There is simply no end to the amount of Biblical prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled, despite the fact that seemingly so much has already been fulfilled. One thing that is still in the process of fulfillment is the fate of the modern churches, regardless of denomination. Everyone has already heard all the stories told by modern churches of their alleged exclusivity, of being taken up while the rest of the world gets left behind, and of themselves being the only persons out of all who were ever created that make it into heaven. But the purpose of this week’s commentary is not to have a theological debate about the state of modern Christianity. The purpose of this message is to call out the Christian leadership of all the world’s denominations for what amounts to dereliction of duty. My text this week will be taken from Ezekiel chapter 34, starting with verses 2-5:

 2) Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3) You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4) You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5) So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.‘” ‘Son of man’ meant Ezekiel, but it could be interpreted as being any one of us today. So, to be considered a “son of man” simply means to be a red-blooded human being. Jesus Christ was the ultimate Son of Man, a Son of God born of human flesh but with the Holy Spirit of the risen Savior of the world.

The ‘shepherds of Israel’ represent the corrupt church leadership during the time these words were originally written. By the time Jesus walked the earth roughly 500 years later, he spoke quite plainly about the corruption of church leadership (see Matthew chapter 23), and He condemned those who practiced that. This can also be extended to the modern church, which sometimes put light shows and technology ahead of the true Gospel of Christ Jesus. People who are members of the church have been laid off and there is simply no employment to be found, while the pastors are driving around in cars with 6-figure price tags. Verse 4 is particularly spot-on: “You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.

 Think of all the homeless people living in their cars, under bridges or in tents, and let’s not forget that nearly half the country is living on public assistance as I write this. They are in the predicament they currently find themselves in because their jobs were out-sourced overseas, or because of business and plant closures. I think that qualifies as ruling over the population with excessive harshness. This is what the Lord says will happen next: 7)“ ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8) As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9) therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10) This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.‘”

‘You shepherds’ are the religious leaders, and their congregations are their ‘flocks’. There is a dearth of leadership in churches of all faiths that goes back centuries. That’s because many of the ‘ministers’ and ‘pastors’ are in the ministry for all the wrong reasons. For them, running a church amounts to part time job with full time pay and benefits. These people are milking their congregations for money, much like the money-changers in the Temple of Jesus’ time. But the Lord, the risen Spirit of the risen Savior and Kinsman Redeemer, stands firmly against all that, as it is written in verse 10: “I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves.” Unlike these predatory churches of which I write, the true church of Jesus Christ is not owned and operated by the Vatican, nor by groups of wealthy evangelicals, nor are they run by boards of directors. But we ourselves who are the true followers of Jesus dedicate our lives only to him exclusively. And now, let’s close out Part One of this week’s message, beginning at verse 11.

 11) “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12) As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13) I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14) I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15) I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16) I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”

So, God has said in verses 11-13, since all the combined pastors, bishops, apostles, priests and deacons are refusing to do their jobs, God will intervene on behalf of all those who sought Christ’s salvation as he bypasses those shepherds who have abandoned their flocks in favor of money. These pastors, teachers, bishops, “apostles” and evangelists are too busy milking their congregations for money to provide anything resembling true, authentic Christian leadership. The former members, many of whom are still in attendance, have become led into sin and addiction of all kinds because they lack a good example in their lives, something that is the responsibility of the leadership to provide. In verses 14 through 16, the Lord Almighty prophesies about the eventuality that he will have to step in and intervene to bring back the lost sheep.

The “lost sheep” in verses 11-16 represent ourselves, the sheep of God’s pasture. In verse 14, the “good grazing land” represents the Word of the Lord, which is the Bible. Interestingly enough, the ‘good grazing land’ and the money we use for our financial transactions are both the same color. I do not believe that is a coincidence. It is better to pursue the right kind of ‘green’ while avoiding the bad kind which breeds corruption. In verse 15, it is prophesied that Christ Jesus himself will personally tend to the needs of his flock. This is because of the dereliction of duty on the part of those in charge of His flocks – the pastors and bishops, teachers and deacons, etc., etc., who pay themselves and each other handsome salaries and even provide leased luxury automobiles.

Then in verse 16, the Lord Almighty spells out the fate of those who got into the ministry for the easy money while failing to provide for the needs of their congregations as it is written: “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” Who are the ‘strays’? They are the ones who have fallen into sin – never mind what kind, since we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory anyway. Who are the injured? They are the ones who have been marginalized due to neglect by those in charge, or because of simple incompetence. To strengthen the weak and to shepherd with justice mean exactly what they say they mean. This is no need for any fancy explanations here.

Next week I will return for part 2, for the sake of brevity. There’s too much in here for all 34 verses, since that would threaten the attention span of all who read it, and there’s no way I’m ever going to do that. So until then, everybody keep Jesus in your minds and your hearts at all times. Shalom….