Messages from Pastor Raddatz


November 20, 2022, Mount Olive Lutheran, Houston TX Christ the King Sunday

CAN DISAPPOINTMENT BE AN OPPORTUNITY? Jeremiah 23:1-6

In Jeremiah there is a complaint lodged against rulers who use their position for their own benefit.   He speaks to the duty of shepherds who are hurting the flock.  He reminds us of the days that are coming when God will raise up …a righteous branch.   We will look at the duty of spiritual shepherds and our own duty to care for and guard our walk with Jesus.

The question for us to consider today is: Can disappointment be an opportunity: IT CAN BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR GOD TO ACT?

What is DUTY?  Duty is defined as, “a course of action that is required…”

1. An act or a course of action that is required of one by position, social custom, law, or religion: Do your duty to your country.   

2. a. Moral obligation: acting out of duty.

3. A service, function, or task assigned to one, especially in the armed forces: hazardous duty.

4. Function or work; service: jury duty. See Synonyms at function.

5. A tax charged by a government, especially on imports like “customs duty

6. a. The work performed by a machine under specified conditions.

Idioms:   duty bound - Obliged: You are duty bound to help your little sister and brother.

off duty - Not engaged in or responsible for assigned work.  on duty - Engaged in or responsible for assigned work.

The people of Israel had shepherds that were destroying and scattering the sheep.  The problem is not simply with incompetent shepherds but with shepherds that have a destructive nature that was only interested in personal gain and not in the good of the flock.  

Sometimes we can find ourselves in a place where we have been given a certain position of authority.  Our news is filled with: politicians who are in public service, but line their own pockets with wealth, parents who do not care for children but neglect them, coaches who are obligated to protect children, but end up hurting them and priests/pastors who look out for their interests and not the interests of God.

For the children of Israel were ruled by a man named Zedekiah, whose name meant “The Lord Our Righteousness.  Although Zedekiah did not live up to the meaning of his name, Jesus the Messiah would make it possible for his subjects to be accounted righteous in God’s sight and thus be saved and live in safety (see Exe 34:25-31).

What is the duty of the Shepherd?

See John 10:10f, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” 

Whether a shepherd is considered to be in a position of civic duty, an educator, coach or pastor they can exercise their freedom for the good of the people or for the good of themselves.  In Ezekiel 34:1f, we hear God’s words of woe against those shepherds who care for themselves and do not care for the flock (read thru verse 10 where it says that God will hold them accountable).  When we experience the hurt of disappointment when those in authority abuse their authority we know we have a good shepherd in Jesus.

God says in Ezekiel verse three that he will invest his energy and time to gather his people and the result is that they will be fruitful and multiply.  Not only will these good things happen for the people, but he will provide for them new shepherds who will care for them and watch over them.  These shepherds will care for them “so none of them is missing” (v 4).  What a comfort this must have been for people living in uncertainty today.  In verse five he describes the “righteous branch” will arise from the house of David.  This is Jesus who will fulfill the promises that have yet to be fulfilled.   Jesus will deal righteously and execute justice in the land.  

The results of the reign of Jesus will be both security for Israel, which was under constant external attack, and salvation for Judah, the place where God was to be worshipped.  God would unite His kingdom under his Son.

What does this mean for me, a follower of Jesus Christ?

Matthew 7:15-17, “By their fruits you will know them.   Do men gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles.”

What this means for us is that:

  • we can tell what a person is really about by their actions.  Words are easy to say but backing up our words with our actions carries great weight.
  • While we may have been disappointed by those who told us they would care for us according to their duty those who look to God will never be disappointed.  Psa 22:5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.   
  • We must exercise our duty as a member of the priesthood of all believers and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.  
  • We too have been given responsibilities to use the gifts and talents God has given us as a citizen of this country and as a member of the kingdom of God.

God can heal all wounds.  God can restore the hurt with hope.  God can give us the courage to use our interests and passions for his good work in our world.  

Because of God’s action in my life, I will

God can use us and our opportunities for his action.  Just as Jesus said that the greatest commandment is (Luke 10:27) … "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"  We can build our life on this foundation of Love and commitment that the Lord has for us, and we have for one another, or we can build on another foundation.  Which will you choose?  I choose God’s love.  His love is total, involving one’s whole being.  Our neighbor is not just someone who lives nearby, but anyone with whom one comes into contact.

To God be The Glory, John F. Raddatz



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