The Heart of the Shepherd

Ben Van Arragon

Read: 1 Samuel 16:1-12 The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart. (v. 7) God called his people “sheep” because, like sheep, they did not always know what was best for them, as when the Israelites demanded a king. They did so wanting not to be godly but great—“like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5). God granted the request, but on the condition that he would choose the …

The Original Shepherd

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Genesis 49:22-25 God of your father . . . will help you. (v. 25) I once had a coworker who enjoyed skydiving. On a Monday morning he came to work shaken. He had slept in the previous morning and missed an opportunity to skydive. The person who took his place on the plane experienced an equipment malfunction that could have killed him. My friend concluded that some invisible hand had steered him from disaster. Jacob, patriarch of Israel, looked …

Missional

Joel Plantinga

Read: Matthew 28:16-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. (v. 19) As our world changes, we find great comfort in the unchanging truth of God’s Word and his care of the church through all things. As this text says, he is with us always, even to the end of the age (v. 20). That matters. With that in mind, I wonder if we are fighting the wrong battle in trying to get people to church. It’s always great …

Prepared to Praise

Joel Plantinga

Read: Psalm 100 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! (v. 4) Imagine you’ve been given a meeting with your favorite celebrity or someone you’ve always admired. You have an opportunity to be in the presence of this person; both to speak to and hear from that person. But when the day of meeting arrives, you get distracted and end up coming late and unready. It’s hard to believe you wouldn’t make this your priority for that …

Gracious

Joel Plantinga

Read: Ephesians 4:25-32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (v. 32) When I did youth ministry, we often played a game where players had to avoid being touched while running in a restricted area. Inevitably, the kids would run into each other while trying to avoid the tag, with comical results. In churches, we can bump into each other sometimes too, but the results aren’t always so fun. Healthy churches require …

Obedient

Joel Plantinga

Read: James 1:19-27 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only . . . (v. 22) Some say that obedience is the repression of the human will. Scripture describes it much differently, including Jesus’ statement in John 14:21 that obeying him is the ultimate expression of love. Here, obedience is described in two parts: listening and doing. Churches that thrive are filled with people who obey God. Listening is a lost art. We want to be heard and …