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 Posted January 19, 2024

The Older Brother Syndrome

I don’t claim to be a prophet, but I have a prophecy for this church today.

Here it is:

“If the people who are now a part of this church cooperate with what the Spirit of God is about to do here, this congregation will experience phenomenal growth. This growth will not be what most people would consider normal church growth. It will be the result, rather, of an influx of people from the margins of society. The kind of people most churches never see except when these folks come for food or a helping hand.” 

And here’s the amazing thing….

Even though most of these new brothers and sisters will have little or nothing to put in the plate…

This church will thrive in every way.

It will thrive spiritually.

It will have more than it needs financially.

But we will first have to be cured of a syndrome that afflicts almost every church on earth. It’s called, “The Older Brother Syndrome”.

Now the parable that we call, “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”, has been misnamed. It should be called, “The Parable of the Older Brother”.

Because when Jesus first gave this parable, it was given as a rebuke to a bunch of self-righteous, religious types who resented the fact that Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. 

“If Jesus is a man of God, if he really is a prophet, why is he eating with tax collectors and sinners? Why does he spend so much time with people who have wasted years of their lives in sin?”

So Jesus answers these religious phonies with a parable.

Here we have two sons of a father who loves them both

– He never stops loving them but they don’t seem to get it.

The younger son takes his inheritance and goes traveling, blowing it all. He’s a mess. But no less a son. In fact, this young man is the source of untold anguish and worry because the father loves him.

This son is just like these sinners that are coming to Jesus, just like those conniving tax collectors.

Has God written them off? 

Has he abandoned them?


There’s not a day goes by that the Heavenly Father doesn’t come out and look down the road and hope, and long for their return.

 Then one day it happens:

I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.” And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 

And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And they began to make merry.   (Luke 15:18-24)

This is exactly what Jesus is doing for these tax collectors and sinners.

He’s welcoming them home.

Opening his arms in love.

Creating a new life for them.

Now we get down to the nitty gritty of the parable.

 We’re looking at….

The older brother who’s out in the field.

The good son who never left the farm.

The good Christian who went to church and did all the proper things.

Of course, if this older son really knew his father and loved his father, he’d be the happiest man on the farm. He’d be out there singing in the fields. Treating the hired servants with kindness. He’d be fun to have around.

As it is, this guy is a real pain. He’s a nitpicker. If there’s anything to criticize, he’ll find it.

 Now he hears music coming from the house, and laughter, and dancing.  Dancing? He’s a “good Christian”, he doesn’t believe in dancing!

He calls one of the servants, “What’s going on in there?” “Why, your brother has come home and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.”

“That does it! I ain’t goin’ in there! All the years I worked on this farm! Did they ever celebrate like that for me? But when he comes home after wasting all that money! Living it up in Vegas! Running around with call girls! they kill the fatted calf for him!”

Why is it that people who come in off the street, people who wasted years of their lives going the wrong way, when they find their way to Jesus,

God seems to fill their hearts with such joy?

Why do they seem to have such a good time?

But notice, Jesus isn’t condemning the older brother. He isn’t putting him down.

He’s telling this parable to all these nitpicking Pharisees in the hope that some of them at least will allow him to cure them of “The Older Brother Syndrome”.

This self-righteous, self-pitying envy which has poisoned their hearts.

Just as the father pleads with his older son, so Jesus pleads with the Pharisees and with us; 

And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” 

In other words;

Open your eyes and behold the love God has for you!

Repent of that hardness, that self-pity that prevents you from receiving God’s life.

There was a woman named Grace. She’s with the Lord now, I’m sure. Grace never missed a Sunday at Messiah Church. She visited the sick. She ran the church kitchen. She attended Bible Study.

One day a commune of “Jesus People” from northwest Detroit suddenly needed a place to stay. The leadership of Messiah Church invited them to use the gym until they sorted things out. This invasion of young men with long hair and beards and young women in long dresses, with a leader who looked like Fidel Castro was too much for poor Grace. She was sure that “hanky panky” was going on up in that gym! How could these young men be Christian, walking around in long hair?

The “Jesus People” came to church. They were full of joy. They had no idea how Grace felt about them, and adopted her as “Sister Grace.” “Good morning, Sister Grace!  Praise the Lord, it’s good to see you, Sister Grace.”

Grace broke down and invited a few of these strange Christians to dinner, so she could get a closer look at them. They prayed before the meal. “Thank you, Father for this magnificent meal. Thank you for the warmth and kindness of your servants, Grace and Harry.”

The “Jesus People” melted Grace’s heart.

It took her a while to figure out that every time she rejected one of these outsiders, she was rejecting her own name.

It’s an awesome thing to be named Grace.

It’s a lot to live up to.

And for a church named Grace – that’s really a lot to live up to!  

Every time a prodigal son or daughter walks into this place, if we had eyes to see, we’d see that they did not come alone.

They were brought here by a friend… and that friend is Christ himself.

If we welcome them with open arms, guess who stays here with them?

If we fail to give them a real welcome, and they turn and walk away, guess who walks away with them?

And every time a prodigal son or daughter walks into your life or mine the same thing happens.

They didn’t come alone.

They were brought by a Friend.

If we give them the brush off, Christ goes with them.

“His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ 

And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”                                          

Luke 15: 28b-32

Jesus never told us whether the older brother broke down and decided to join the celebration or whether he walked away with a bitter heart.

He never told us, because…..

 We are the older brother. 

And we have to decide whether we’re going to go into the party or stay outside.

One thing is for sure.

The party for the return of the prodigal is going on all over the earth right now.

Lost sons and daughters of God are coming home.

Wherever it’s happening people are having a good time! They’re singing and dancing, eating and drinking, and praising God for his goodness! The party will continue until Jesus comes back.

It’s a lot more fun to be in there celebrating than to stand outside listening from a distance.

Back to the prophecy….

Prodigal sons and daughters are going to begin stumbling across our paths, into our lives, and into this church in greater numbers. The thing about these people is that you won’t have to twist their arms to come to your place for dinner or to have a coffee with you. 

Plus, they’re really serious about finding their way back to God.

They know something is missing in their lives and they’re searching.

All we have to do is what Jesus did.

Open our hearts in welcome to these people who are trying to find their way back home and who for some strange reason keep coming to us.

Eat with them.

Have coffee with them.

Talk with them.

Listen to them.

When the time is right, don’t be afraid to pray with them.

And you’ll be amazed, not only at their joy,

 but at yours!

Prayer: Oh yes Lord, give us the insight, the heart, and the compassion to celebrate when prodigals….the broken, the lost, the rejected ones come into our midst. And yes, forgive us for our self-righteous envy….this poison that bitters our hearts like the older brother. And instead of standing on the outside filled with bitterness, may we come into the party celebrating and shouting for joy at their redemption. Help us to welcome them, truly welcome them in every little way we can and share in your redeeming joy because they are saved, because of your tremendous mercy and because you are their friend and loving father. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber 2001.  Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Sculpture- Reconciliation (various angles) a sculpture by Margaret Adams Parker on the campus of Duke Divinity School, North Carolina, USA. Paintings and mural- Courtesy and kindness of Ross Boone  Website: Ross Boon at
#Prodigal #OlderBrother #SelfRighteous #Envy #Redemption

 Posted December 22, 2023


You pick up the newspaper and they tell you that there are only a few more shopping days left.  So get crackin!  You check over the headlines and are reminded that, Christmas or no Christmas, things are looking pretty shaking out there. Bombs going off in crowded cities, refugee camps filling up. And, close to home, the economy is shaky, prices going up and up.

So when we get to Christmas Eve and sing, “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come,” are we ignoring the real world for a journey down memory lane, or is there something in the gospel of Jesus which applies even to this messy, troubled world as it is right now?  Is it possible to see something in this gospel that will justify our singing, “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come”?

Back in the days of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, there was a man named Micah, who was not only gifted with a prophetic voice, he had prophetic eyes.  Every once-in-a-while God enabled Micah to see far into the future.  And Micah took what he saw and used it to create hope.  

Hope, at a time when things were looking bleak, in Israel, and in the world.

But you, O Bethlehem, who are little among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days……And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.

Micah 5:2 and 4

Micah sees a time when this world will be at peace.  

No more war.  

No terror.  

No hunger and disease.  

A ruler “whose origin is from of old, from ancient days (eternity?) will stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.” 

Micah sees a day when God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven, under the rule of the Messiah. 

As we look forward to another Christmas, we need to see that the arrival of this baby in Bethlehem was only the beginning of the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy.  There’s more.

All we can see right now as we look around at our world, is a world so out-of-control that no king, no president, no dictator, no “international conference” can set it right.  Only God can do that.

So as we celebrate the birth of this baby at a time like the one we’re living in, it is important to see the whole picture: 

…. That we celebrate, not only what Jesus has already done, but what he is doing now, and, more important, what he is going to do.

Ever since Jesus rose from the dead he has been doing one thing here in this world: he has been gathering his flock.  He is preparing for the day when he will “stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God,” in a world at peace. 

And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice.  So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. 

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me, and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.

John 10: 16 & 27

Across the earth today, the Spirit of the Lord is calling people out of their preoccupations to come into his flock.  He is gathering his sheep.

The Lord Jesus gathers his sheep in two ways:  

  1. He causes us to hear his voice; 

  2. He enables us to feel his power.  

He gathers his sheep in no other way.

Sometimes our churches hinder what the Lord is doing by trying to help him gather his flock by other means.  We try to fill our churches by entertaining the folks.  Or we bribe them with promises of earthly prosperity.  We even do market surveys to find out what the people want; and then we give them what they want.

Of course, we end up with numbers.  

But no vision.  

No life.  

We end up with a flock.  But it’s our flock, not his.

If we step back and let the Lord Jesus do it his way, he will gather his flock even in the smallest of flocks.

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 18 

If we are truly gathered in his name, and if he really is in our midst at this moment, the Lord Jesus will make his presence known to us the way he always does it:

    1. He will cause us to hear his voice.
    2. He will enable us to feel his power.

First, the Lord Jesus causes us to hear his voice. 

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.

 As we gather, as we pray, a word comes to us.  It could be from a hymn, something someone says, a thought that comes into your mind.  It’s a word that cuts right into your heart.   That word is a call to make a change….to get reconciled with someone….perhaps simply to have faith, “Trust me, don’t give up.  I’m with you.”  Maybe it’s a call to repent of a negative attitude.   A word… a living word!

Secondly, if we act on that word, the Lord Jesus then enables us to feel his power.

The hour is coming and now is,  when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God,  and those who hear shall live.

John 5

Jesus is not talking about those who are dead in their graves.  

He’s talking about people like ourselves, when we’re distracted, preoccupied with ourselves, burning with resentment, driven by fear — spiritually dead.  He causes us to hear his voice.  

If we perk up our ears and pay attention, and act on his word, we begin to feel his power.  He raises us from our spiritual death. 

His power may come to us as a touch of healing, or a rush of peace flooding our mind, a flash of insight that strikes like a bolt of lightning and turns us around.  One way or another,  we will feel his power, if we act on his word, because the Lord is gathering his flock, lifting us out of our worries, our troubles, our petty concerns, into the light of his kingdom.  He is doing this to give us a sample of the glory which will one day cover this earth. 

But the blessing we receive today as we call on his name is only the beginning.  If we are touched with the life of heaven today, it is only a foretaste.  He is trying to get us to look beyond the troubles of the earth at this hour and see what Micah saw:  the Day when….

 He shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.

 That’s why he came.

That’s why he died on the cross.

That’s why he is among us now. 

   To get us ready….

….Ready for the Day when wars and rumors of wars, pandemics, famines, earthquakes, and strife will end.  This world will be at peace.  And all who answered his invitation to walk the walk of faith will join him in his New Creation on this earth. 

Those who belong to him on the other side of death will come with him.

Those who are scattered in the far reaches of this planet will be drawn to him.

 And there will be one Flock, one Shepherd.

 And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.

This is what justifies our singing “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!”

Only this.

Meanwhile, today as we read this message, this is his word to us: (If it applies to you, you will know it.)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me, and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.

Prayer: Yes Lord, during this holiday season, especially, may we be fed by you, our loving shepherd. May we lift our voices in beautiful song and truly mean “joy to the world, the Lord has come”. May we experience your presence now as we hear your voice and feel your power. Give us Living Words. Raise us from our spiritual deaths. Lift us into your Kingdom, where we can be freed from the troubles of this world, now. Because you, yourself have fed us, you feed us now, and you will continue to feed us as we join you in your new creation. Amen.


Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber 2009.  Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Francisco “Pancho” Borboa  Website: No website but this artist was born in 1923 in California  and grew up in Mexico and lived most of his adult life in Asia where he has painted many murals. He has lived a very interesting life. Many of the paintings featured here were done is his 90’s. Here is a short biography about him.…it will need to be translated to English.

 Posted December 8, 2023


One day a man named, Jack Smith, took me aside for a little talk. Jack and his family had been coming to church for a couple of years. He was a foreman at a manufacturing plant, lived in a nice house in the suburbs, drove a late model car. Somehow Jack and his family had found their way down to this inner city church.

“I don’t know if I really belong in this church”, he said, “I don’t have any dramatic stories to tell. I’m just an ordinary guy. I haven’t been into drugs or alcohol or crime. These people have had their lives turned around by God. What’s there to turn around in my dull life?”

“What’s there to turn around in my dull life?”

Fortunately, Jack hung in there and he came to a place where he could see that he was just as needy as all these men and women who had spent years on the streets.

 And that’s when his faith began to grow.

Old Simon the Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner had no idea how needy he was. 

Like Jack, he was complacent.

 Life was going pretty good.

 He was respected in the community.

 He felt secure about himself.

Secure enough to invite this controversial man from Nazareth to dinner to get a closer look at him. And doesn’t he raise his eyebrows when this woman with a bad reputation barges across the room and begins to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears, wipe them with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with expensive ointment!

“Well, now I know”, says Simon to himself, “that this Jesus is no prophet. If he were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman that is kissing his feet! He would not have allowed her to touch him.”

Simon watches this strange episode with eyes that are spiritually blind. He hasn’t a clue about what’s going on here because he hasn’t a clue about his own need. He’s complacent.  

Jesus looks over at Simon the Pharisee and he can see the wheels turning. He sees the cynical expression on Simon’s face.

“Simon, I want to tell you something.” “What is it, Teacher?” (This ought to be good. I have this guy’s number.)

“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which one will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”   (Luke 7:41-47)

Now was it that Simon didn’t have many sins to forgive and this woman had a lot of sins? 

Or was it that Simon only thought he didn’t have many sins? 

How about the sin of complacency?

 One thing is for sure:

This woman found her way straight to the door of the kingdom that day because she knew her need. She saw Jesus as her only hope.


Simon was so full of complacency that he was blind to his own need and blind to the one hope that was sitting at his table!

Jesus comes and sits at our table.

He does more.

He comes to feed us with the bread of heaven, to strengthen us  and heal us.

And like Simon the Pharisee, we find it hard to discern the presence of the Holy in our midst. I mean Jesus doesn’t seem to be doing his job. If he’s the Son of God, and he’s really here,

Why isn’t more happening?

Why is it that only certain people get excited about him? People like that woman?

Just like Simon the Pharisee, we find it easy to sit back and pass judgment on the way Jesus does things. 

If he’s the Son of God,

Why did he let that person die?

Why does he allow children to suffer?

Why don’t I get better answers to my prayers?

Now here comes this woman into our church right in the middle of our feast. She doesn’t ask any questions about why Jesus does this or doesn’t do that. She goes straight to him and starts to worship him.        

She washes his feet with tears of repentance, kisses them with devotion, anoints them with an offering, not of her leftovers, but of the best she has.

Ah ha! That’s it! Jesus appeals to the riffraff. Those people always seem to go for him. Well, that’s all right. They have nothing better to do with their time.

Then, one day Jesus calls you by name and says, “I want to talk to you.” Somehow the Spirit of the Lord gets our attention through all our apathy and says,

“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which one will love him more?” 

Maybe I always thought of myself as the guy with the small debt. “After all I haven’t messed up my life like that woman messed up hers. I’ve always been a decent person, so I don’t owe like she does. And I’ll admit it, that’s why I’m not into prayer, and reading the Bible, and tithing my income, and running around doing for people like that fanatical woman. I don’t need to. I already have a pretty good record.”

Now we don’t know what happened to Simon the Pharisee after Jesus left his house that day. But let’s suppose he had a little trouble sleeping that night. Let’s say he began to remember a few things about himself he had forgotten. By morning he’s so distraught by this new uncovering of his deceitful heart, he has no peace left until he finds his way to Jesus and cries out for help. Now he’s no longer the lightweight debtor he thought he was. “Woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips… I had the Word of God at my table and didn’t even know it!”

The only thing standing between each of us and a life of burning faith is complacency.  

Complacency. We’re all affected by it. 

This is why we find it so easy to judge people and so hard to trust God.

Complacency is like an odorless gas that seeps up through the floor and lures you into a strange slumber. Your eyes are open. You can hear everything that goes on, but you’re above it all. You can see other people’s faults, but not your own.

 How do we get rid of that poison gas? How do we come out of that stupor?

What we have to do is pay attention when Jesus talks to us like he talked to Simon. And he does! In love he puts his finger on the very thing in our hearts that needs to change.

 Simon the Pharisee had God the Son sitting at his table and treated him like an imposter. We have God the Son standing among us in the power of the Spirit and we look right past him. He speaks to us and we let his words evaporate in our heads before they ever get to our hearts.

Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  

We are not dealing with a far off God here. We are dealing with a God so close and so personal that the slightest gesture of welcome draws him right into our hearts. That woman knew that. She knew he wouldn’t push her away.

         “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you.

         Go in peace.”

 We can have what she had. We can walk out of here today with hearts at peace.

As she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, she was repenting of sins which were destroying her life. And we, like Simon, may feel we are above her. But in God’s sight there is one sin in us which is more dangerous than all her sins put together – the sin of complacency. It will destroy you.

 So today, when we come to the table, we need to come with a prayer, 

“Lord, open my eyes to see my true condition.  

Open my ears to hear your Living Word.

Deliver me, O God, from the sin of complacency.

Do whatever it takes, O Lord, to wake me up.”

Of course, that’s a dangerous prayer. “Do whatever it takes to wake me up.” But it’s a prayer you’ll never regret. Let’s pray that prayer today when we come to the altar. Let’s pray that prayer every morning until we start to see the answer.

 “Do whatever it takes, O Lord, to wake me up.”

Prayer: Amen, amen deliver us from complacency 
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber 2001.  Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Stills from the Jesus Film Project (CRU)…From clip 14 A Sinful Woman Forgiven  Website: CRU

 Posted December 1, 2023


Brother Bennie often sang for us on Wednesday night.  One of his favorite songs was,

 “I want Jesus to walk with me. You walk with my brother, walk with me. You walk with my sister, walk with me.  All along this tedious journey, I want Jesus to walk with me.”

In other words,

“I want to know that you’re at my side, Lord.”

“I want to be aware of your presence with me, not with my imagination but with absolute certainty.”

We’ve had our seasons of vision. We’ve had experiences with the risen Christ. There have been moments when we heard his voice, and it was that voice which awakened us from the dead.

But what most of us are looking for now is a steady, consistent, everyday certainty that the Lamb of God is walking at our side, even as he walks by the side of every disciple all over the earth.

“Walk with me Lord. You walk with my brother, walk with me. 

You walk with my sister, walk with me.”

 “I need to know that you’re really here with me on Monday morning. I need to hear your voice on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.”

   “You promised that if I came to you, you would give me rest.

   You promised that if I got under the yoke with you, you would teach me.

    You promised to be with us to the end of the age … not as an idea … but as a living, burning, life-giving Spirit.”

 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; con­cerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

John 16:7-14

“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth.” 

In other words, “When the Holy Spirit has come to you, I will tell you, through him, all the things you aren’t ready for yet. 

He will cause you to know that I am with you. 

He will help you to understand what I am saying to you.”

And it happened as Jesus promised. The Spirit came and they became wonderfully conscious that Jesus was teaching them and guiding them. And it was not imagination, it was certainty. 

This guidance got them to the right place at the right time and gave them the power they needed.

In the epistles of Paul, every one of them starts out with a word of great confidence that Jesus had called him, empowered him, and was walking with him. The fundamental reality for Paul was that Jesus was walking with him and directing his life.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and desig­nated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all nations, including your­selves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:1-7

These are the words of a man who has a living relation­ship going … not religious platitudes … 

…but a walk with Jesus that is his life. 

This man gets up in the morning with Jesus, goes through the day with Jesus. 

Every­thing he touches is touched in the name of Jesus. 

He’s obsessed with Jesus. 

And the result is not insanity, delusion, sickness. 

This obsession with Jesus in Paul causes this man to leave behind him a trail of healing, resurrection power, changed lives, ….the Kingdom of God.

Nobody can accomplish what Paul or others like him accomplished without this burning consciousness that never leaves them…

…. They know that Jesus is walking with them.

“Well Lord, that’s what we want. You walked with our brother Paul, walk with us. You walked with our sister Mary, walk with us.”

 “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but what­ever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

In this passage Jesus is speaking also to us.

When the Spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all the truth,”

….meaning, “when the Holy Spirit comes to you, I will be walking at your side.

“for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears, he will speak,”

….meaning, “when the Holy Spirit comes I will be speak­ing to your heart and mind.  The Spirit will take my word and make it live in you.”

And the Spirit… 

….does come….he has come….and he will come. 

He is moving in our lives, he is stirring in our assemblies. 

And the first thing he says to us;

  “I have come to walk with you. But I can only walk with you if you are willing to walk with me.

I can only walk with you if you allow me to lead the way.

I cannot walk with you as your mascot or as your lackey. I can only walk with you as your Shepherd and Lord.

The problem with many of us is that we still want Jesus to be our mascot … to be like the genie of Aladdin’s lamp. You rub the lamp, the genie appears and now he’ll run any little supernatural errand you’d like him to perform. Any Jesus who is at our disposal is never the real Jesus … he is an idol … a front for the anti-Christ.

The real Jesus,

– is our Lord … we’re at his disposal,

– is our Shepherd … we’re under his authority.

He calls the shots, he leads the way, because he alone knows the way. So he says, through the Spirit,

    “Yes, I will walk with you if you let me lead the way.”

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

And so, Jesus’ answer to our prayers, “Lord, walk with me,” is;

“I will walk with you if you will draw near and walk with me.”

  1. “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” 

…meaning, The Holy Spirit can only guide us if we draw near to the vision of Jesus we now have.

   You have seen light,

– come to it,    

turn toward it,

open your heart to it,

follow it.

“Come to me … come to me.   I will walk with you, but you have to come to me.”

  1. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,”

….meaning, The Holy Spirit can only guide us if we submit to the teaching Jesus has given us.

 – Get under the yoke.

– Get under the word he has spoken and live it by his side.

Take Matthew 5, 6 and 7 …read it, soak it up, understand what it means … and then get under it. The Sermon on the Mount is not something you admire like a poem or a piece of music or a work or art.

The Sermon on the Mount is something you do

 ….get under it and do it … and the Holy Spirit will guide you.

And Jesus will be walking at your side.

  1. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,”

….meaning, The Holy Spirit can only guide us when we follow with free hearts.

– Jesus’ words are not legalism.

– Jesus’ words are grace.

The Sermon on the Mount is not an unbearable burden,

– get right with the people you’ve angered,

– live with a single eye,

– walk by faith,

– love your enemies,

….it’s light as a feather, easy to carry, ….perfect rest as we walk by Jesus’ side.

Today let’s turn Bennie’s song, “Walk With Me,” into a prayer.

 “Lord, walk with me. Visit me afresh in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

And as we do this we will get an answer. The Holy Spirit will come to us and he will speak and we will hear him say to us,

“Yes, I will walk with you if you will walk with me … get under my yoke,

…walk by my side,

…learn from me.

I will turn every day of your life into a foretaste of the coming glory…..

 ….and you will manifest my kingdom. 

…..You will do my will. 

…..You will glorify my name. 

…..You will feed my sheep 

…. and I will be walking at your side.”

Prayer: Yes, Lord may we hear your call to the core of our hearts, “walk with me, walk with me”. Oh that we would heed your call and get up and walk with you and continue to walk with you for life…never wanting to leave your side. Oh to turn to the side and know you’re with us, to sit and know you’re with us, to lay down and know you’re with us. Help us to stop pulling away from this beautiful gift. We open our hearts to your presence right now. We submit to everything you teach us and guide us to do. Help us to do it willingly, lovingly because you are at our sides as we do it. And Lord, make walking with you a freedom, a joy to us…there is nothing more beautiful, more wonderful than walking with you, than doing your will, than bringing your healing, your redemption to all we touch. Yes, Lord help us to live in your glory now and in the coming days. And as we do may we manifest your kingdom, feed your sheep, and glorify your name ….because we choose you, choose you with each step, each breath. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber 1985.  Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Courtesy and kindness of Gary Bunt © Gary Bunt   Website:

 Posted November 24, 2023


The U.S. and in Canada each have their special day of Thanksgiving, where people gather to reflect and give thanks.  The message which is usually heard in one form or another is, “Every day is a day of thanksgiving….We need to be giving thanks all the time.”

And it’s true, thanksgiving and thankfulness ought to be the dominating spirit of our lives. 

People who have developed the mindset of continually giving thanks have found the way to true blessedness.  

But most of us are more like those nine lepers who took their healing from Jesus and never looked back.  When something really good happens to us, we’re elated.  We may even say, “Thanks a lot, God.”  But the idea of offering my life back to God in thanksgiving — of doing something costly to show my gratitude — strikes us as fanatical.  It’s okay to be thankful, but let’s not get carried away!

One of the reasons that this kind of radical thankfulness does not grip our souls — why we’re rarely the Samaritan praising God with a loud voice, throwing ourselves at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks — is because we’re all wrapped up in our own disappointments.  We may not say it in so many words, but here’s the question that lingers like a cloud in the back of our minds:

“Why don’t they appreciate me?  I go out of my way to help folks, and they don’t even notice.  I do the grungy jobs, nobody says, Thanks.  I give them the shirt off my back, and they say, ‘How ’bout your shoes, while your at it?'” 

We know all about what Jesus went through that day, when those nine lepers hurried on, without a word of thanks.  It happens to us all the time.  After a while, you get cynical.  You feel like sitting back and saying, “I paid my dues.  Let somebody else be the sucker for a change.”

And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”    (Luke 17:12-13)

Imagine if Jesus had said, “Okay you guys.  I’ll heal you on one condition: that, after you’re healed, you show a little appreciation.  I’m sick and tired of healing people and being ignored.  If you guys walk away with your healing and don’t know how to say Thank You, you’re going to end up sicker than you were before.”

Praise God, that’s not how Jesus operated.  

He healed these men with no strings.  No conditions.

When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”  

And as they went they were cleansed.

All ten of them.  Their leprosy was gone forever.  This healing was a sign of  God’s kingdom.  They could follow the sign right into God’s world, or they could ignore the sign and go on living as they always lived.  

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.  Now he was a Samaritan.  Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed?  Where are the nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  And he said to him, 

“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:14-19

We see two wonderful things in this episode: 

We see a man with a thankful heart.

We see the Son of Man with a generous heart.

A thankful heart.

A generous heart.  

When you and I arrive at the place where we have such hearts, we will never again complain , “Why don’t people appreciate me?”  

Because it won’t matter. 

We will be too full of gratitude to God to worry about whether people appreciate us.  

We will be too full of God’s mercy to be upset when people take us for granted.

I can hear someone saying, “What planet are you living on?  It’s all very well to talk about having a thankful heart when we’re sitting in church, or reading these words in private.  But take that thankful, generous heart out into the real world and they’ll walk all over you and leave you flat as a pancake at the bottom of a ditch.”

It’s true, this world is no rose garden. There are some slick operators out there who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.  The Lord Jesus himself warns us to watch out for those guys, to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  Don’t be a fool!

But keep in mind that the biggest fools on this earth are not the suckers and the patsies and the gullible idiots.  The biggest fools in this world are the cynics and the misers, who only say “Thank you,” when it pays off for them and only open their hands and give, when they expect to get something back.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.  Now he was a Samaritan.  Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed?  Where are the nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  And he said to him, 

“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” 

“Your faith has made you well.”   

Jesus did not say that to the other nine, only to this man.  For this man received something the other nine did not get.  This man entered into God’s World simply by giving thanks.  

Let this be his way of life from now on, and, no matter what happens to him in the days ahead…

This man is under the protection of God.  

This man is surrounded by a wall of holy fire.  

This man’s grateful heart is flooded with God’s peace. 

And here’s what happens to people who travel the world with thankful hearts: they become anointed with an even greater blessing.  

It’s called generosity. 

The Samaritan who’s been healed goes home to his family in Samaria.  They can’t believe it’s him!  No more leprosy.  His body is whole and clean.  His eyes are shining.  His children can hug him again.  His wife can kiss him again. While they’re rejoicing there’s a knock at the door.  It’s his neighbor.  Could they spare a little bread?  His neighbor and his family haven’t eaten in two days. “Here,” says the leper who is no longer a leper, “Take these loaves.  And here,” as he pours some gold coins from his purse, “Go and buy whatever you need.  And may the God of the Messiah Jesus open the windows of heaven upon you.” After the neighbor leaves, the Samaritan’s wife says, “Isn’t that a little risky?  Giving all that away at one time?” “My dear wife, you managed so well while I was an outcast leper.  You held our family together during difficult days.  And I thank you.  I honor you.  But look at what God has done for us!  Surely we can share his mercy with our neighbor.” And as the days passed, heaven not only opened its windows on his neighbor.  It kept pouring out blessings on this thankful man with a generous heart.

“I’m sorry, but I’m not that Samaritan leper.  I’m me.  And I have to tell you, I do grow weary sometimes, doing for people, and never getting even a whisper of thanks.  No appreciation.  It dries up the soul.  It would be nice to get a word of encouragement once-in-a-while.”

Who of us has not felt that way?  Who of us has not been “weary in well-doing?”  

It’s a dangerous place to be. 

 It’s right on the edge of a pit called Cynicism.  

You become a cynic, and pretty soon you can’t see anything in the world to be thankful for.  

Your heart turns cold.

When we find ourselves getting depressed because nobody appreciates us, the best thing we can do is get over ourselves and look up.  Instead of focusing on all the people who let us down, we focus on the One who never lets us down — not even when we think he’s letting us down. 

 He never does.  He never will.

We may not be that Samaritan leper.  But if we open our eyes, we too can see the kindness of the One who not only laid down his life for each of us, as if each were the only one, but who also is even now showering us with a thousand mercies.

Instead of bemoaning our sorry lot, we lift up our hearts and start giving thanks like that Samaritan.

Let all that I am praise the LORD; 

with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. 

Let all that I am praise the LORD;

may I never forget the good things he does for me.

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. 

He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. 

He fills my life with good things. 

My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

                                                                        Psalm 103: 1-5 (NLT)

Even if you don’t feel like it, make yourself do it.  

Just start praising the Lord God, until your soul catches fire with thankfulness. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Pretty soon you will forget all about those nine lepers who never said  “Thanks” to you. 

 You’ll be on your face with the Samaritan, at Jesus’ feet, with a thankful, generous heart.

And when you get up, you’ll begin a new life.

Prayer: Lord, save us from the trap of feeling unappreciated, cynical, and cold hearted. Help us to never stop looking back and being grateful and thankful and overjoyed by all the blessings you have poured into our lives, awed by your tender mercy to us. Amen

Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber 2011- Thanksgiving  Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Peter Koenig   Website:

 Posted October 27, 2023


And Eli said to her, “how long will you be drunken?  Put away your wine from you.”  But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman sorely troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.  Do not regard your maidservant as a base woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”  Then Eli answered, “Go in peace and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have made to him.”  And she said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your eyes.”  Then the woman went her way and ate, and her countenance was no longer sad.

I Samuel 1: 14-18

   Who of us cannot relate to Hannah’s despair?  

   Who of us has not at some time in our life, perhaps even at this moment, known that silent desperation?   

Her lips were moving, but nothing was coming out. “Lord God!  Give me a child!  I’ll give him back to you.  I’ll dedicate him to you for life.  But Lord, let me have a child!”

No one on earth knew the anguish of this woman’s heart.  Her husband did not have a clue about the kind of torment she was living through, while his other wife kept making Hannah’s life miserable.  Finally, when old Eli the priest understands Hannah’s desperation, he speaks a word from God:  “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have made to him.” And it was done.  And Hannah knew that it was done.  She knew it before she ever conceived the child, Samuel.

For most of us, the first experience we ever had of God’s grace took place at such a moment of desperation.  It’s when we know that we cannot lift ourselves out of the problem, that no amount of money, no human help will do it, that we turn to God with hearts that are almost pure.

 “Lord, help me!  I have nowhere to turn, but to you.  Help me!”

Pretty soon a door opens, a light comes on.  Something happens that causes us to know that heaven has heard the cry of our heart.  It’s going to be okay.  And it is!

The woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, the father who cried out to Jesus to heal his epileptic boy — they met Jesus’ power at their point of desperation.

 So for anyone reading these words who may be walking through a valley like Hannah’s, and doesn’t know which way to turn…

…you have this burden, this fear, this overwhelming need — lay this thing before the Lord right now, as we join our hearts to yours….as we lift up our prayers and say, “Lord, answer the cry of this heart!  Send help right out of heaven!  Touch this person with your hand of peace and healing, Lord!”

Why else does the Spirit bring us together as followers of Jesus, but to pray for one another and to call down heaven’s power on those who share Hanna’s desperation. 

And for those of us whose moment of desperation has passed — for the time being — life isn’t so bleak as it was when we were passing through our dark valley….

…. We need to learn that every moment we live….

….. is actually being lived on the edge of desperation, 

….whether we are aware of it or not. 

Even if you are in perfect health, you have tons of money in the bank, all your children are doing well —-

— apart from God’s mercy, apart from God’s patient love, where would you be?

And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

 Mark 13:1-2

To the disciples those Temple buildings were a sign of God’s protection.  Behind the veil, in the Holy of Holies, was the Shekinah glory of God.  God is in our temple!  We’re safe.  Who can harm us?

 “No,” says Jesus, “Israel is living on the edge of desperation and doesn’t know it.  Do you see these magnificent buildings?  There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.  Wake up, fellas!”

To live by faith is to be awake to the fact that we are in desperate need ….…..of God’s protection, power, guidance, healing grace, all the time.  

 My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, He is my defense, I shall not be moved.       (Psalm 62)

Too many people who once tasted God’s redeeming power forgot all about it, once the moment of desperation passed.  “It’s okay, Lord, I’ll take it from here!” ….

Totally unaware that they’re living on the edge of desperation all the time. 

So they stumble along in their vanity until they fall into another pit.  “Lord!  Where are you?  How could you let this happen to me?”

Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.

Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Psalm 127

Don’t forget where your security lies.  

Don’t forget the promise you made.

 When Hannah cried out to God in her despair, she made a promise….

“O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thy maidservant, and remember me, and not forget thy maidservant, but wilt give to thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.”   (I Samuel 1:11)

And when the child was born, Hannah kept her promise.  She did everything she said she would do…

….. and her son Samuel was blessed and so was she.

If I throw my life on God’s mercy in that moment of desperation, “Lord, I’m putting my life into your hands!  Do with me what you want!  Lead me where you will!” —-

— if I make such a commitment, pity help me if I don’t follow through!  

It would have been better for me never to turn to God than to make a promise in desperation, and then, when the storm is over, forget all about my vow.

There are multitudes of spiritual zombies walking around out there and in our fellowships…..

…. who backed away from their vow and lost a piece of their soul.

After Jesus and the disciples left the Temple that day, they climbed the Mount of Olives and sat down.  They could see the Temple buildings gleaming in the sunlight off in the distance below.  The disciples were still shaken by Jesus’ prediction that the Temple would be destroyed. 

Surely that must mean the beginning of the End!

“Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?”   (Mark 13:4)

And now Jesus begins to teach them how to live on the edge of desperation all the time.  

His words are preserved for us in Mark 13, Matthew 14, and Luke 21, because this teaching is meant for us as well as for those first disciples.

 Jesus began to say to them, “Take heed that no one leads you astray.  Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.  And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places, there will be famines; this is but the beginning of the sufferings.” (Mark 13:5-8)

Jesus is teaching us to walk by faith in a world that is unstable and unpredictable.  

He is teaching us to live on the edge of desperation all the time. 

He is teaching us that we need to rely on God to sustain us…

… Just as Hannah relied on God.  

To really rely on God!  

And this is much easier to do, once you’ve found out that there is nothing else to rely on, but God!

Think about it.  What assurance do we have, that we will even be alive on the earth next year at this time?  Or next week?  Or even tomorrow?  

What assurance do we have that the world economy won’t collapse by April?  Or that terrorists won’t get control of the nuclear trigger in Pakistan before summer?  

 Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none I desire upon earth besides thee. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.       (Psalm 73)

Hannah found God’s mercy at a moment of desperation.  

And we find God’s mercy the same way.  

But the Lord Jesus wants to take us beyond that.  

He offers us the power to live on the edge of desperation all the time…. 

….and still keep trusting God.

He offers us the power to live each day… with the clear knowledge…

…. that the only security we have is the Lord himself.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:  thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.   (Psalm 23)

Prayer: Dearest Lord, may we continue to turn to you, seek you, cry out to you when all we can feel is desperation and anguish. We lay our need, our anguish, our despair before you. We cannot rescue ourselves. Oh wrap your arms around us at these times. May we find your help and may the thankfulness for it pour out of our hearts and mouths. And Lord for those of us who are not experiencing desperation at this point…we lift our hearts with the suffering of those in despair…crying out for mercy for them. Yes, answer the cry of their hearts, send help from your heavenly throne, touch them with your healing hand and bring them peace. And Lord, help us to keep in mind that all of us are on the edge of desperation, needing your help, protection, and guidance. Without you, without your mercy, love, presence, and protection we cannot face the troubles of this world, we cannot face the instability and the unexpected, we cannot face disappointment and frustration, we cannot face the brokenness and evil in this world, we cannot face the coming terrors. May we know, really know that no matter what, you will sustain us, that we can rely on you. That we can walk through the shadow of death… and fear no evil…for you are with us in all things, even blessing us in the midst of darkness, and that your mercy, that your goodness shall follow us all our days and cause us to dwell in your holy presence no matter what our circumstances. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber 2009 and edited by him in 2014    Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Ross Boone.   One piece by Jan Van t Hoff at Gospel Images “Samuel Brought to the Lord by Hannah”   Website: Raw Spoon

 Posted October 13, 2023


 A certain king departed into a far country and left his castle in the charge of his five sons. Before he went, the king warned his sons that the armies of the enemy were near and that they would try to conquer the castle while he was gone.

“If you watch from the towers you will be able to observe their movements and thwart their attacks with archers on the walls. But keep the watch going day and night!”

At first the five brothers held to their father’s in­structions. Watchmen on the towers continuously observed the movements of the enemy. Three times the enemy was driven back suffering heavy Losses. Then there was a lull in the attack. And during the lull the brothers took to arguing about which move the enemy would try next.

 “They’ll come down from the northern mountains,” said one.

“No, they’ll come up from the riverbank”, said another.

“No”, said a third. “They’ll come from east and west at the same time.”

The argument grew bitter and spread through the whole army until those of one persuasion hardly spoke to those of another.

The troops who expected an attack from the north ate, drank and slept on the northern wall.

Those who looked for an attack from the river held to that side of the castle.

The brothers continued their argument every day and far into every night. Watchmen were no longer stationed on the towers, since everyone was so sure he knew where the attack would come from. Weeks went by with no sign of the enemy as division within the castle grew more and more bitter. Had there been anyone in those towers they would have observed a line of young trees moving up from the south. They would have seen strange looking machinery slowly rolling toward the mote by the main gate.

 But the brothers and their divided troops were too busy theorizing to observe what was actually going on outside the walls. It was in the middle of a sword fight between the two oldest brothers that the roars of the spectators were interrupted by a trumpet blast, a mighty crash, the collapse of the giant gate, and the inrush of enemy troops. By morning there wasn’t a soul left alive in the smoldering ruins of that castle. 

As Christians argue about the rapture, the antichrist, the gifts, modes of baptism, and forms of church life, things are going on outside the castle that would tell them much if they only opened their eyes.

 As we talk about our doctrines, about our future things, and past things, we are missing the meaning of this present hour.

 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?    (Luke 12:54-56)

Jesus wasn’t even talking to disciples here, He was talking to the multitudes. And He called them hypocrites for not being able to interpret the hour in which they lived.

    He didn’t pity them for their ignorance.
    He judged them for their willful blindness.

 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in  Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.  But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.  And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.   (Luke 10:13-15)

Those cities were held accountable for not recognizing God when He walked their streets.

Now if Jesus calls down this kind of judgment on the multitudes for not discerning the times, how much more does He expect His disciples to know what’s going on.

He has no patience with disciples who let themselves be lulled to sleep by the spirit of this world. He says to the church at Sardis.

“Awake, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death.” ….”If you will not awake, I will come like a thief and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.”  (Revelation 3:2a & 3:3b)

There are things we need to know about this present hour. If we don’t see these things clearly now, and if we don’t live accordingly now, the awakening will come when it’s too late to do anything about it.

  1. We need to see that we are living in a time of judgment.

 The Spirit of the Lord is saying to us,

“Can’t you see that this world is already under judgment of God?

Can’t you see that this world in which you now live has cracks in its foundations that tell you it’s going to fall in this genera­tion? Open your eyes

You remember the time when some of the disciples spoke of the temple and how it was adorned with noble stones. Jesus said,

 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6)

Open your eyes! 

This city and everything in it, including the temple, is already under judgment. Her house is already desolate. Destruction and bloodshed are only a matter of time.

 It makes a difference in your living whether you see this world as solid or crumbling.

 The vast majority of professing Christians, especially those who talk much about the rapture and the end, are nevertheless hanging on to the things of this world as if they were solid rock.

 -They are not discerning this present hour.

– They are not reading the signs on all sides that the castle is coming down.

What do you see when you read the newspaper?  
What do you see when you walk down the street?
What do you see as you drive along the freeway?
What do you see when you look at the house you live in?

If you are using the eyes God has given you, you see things that will soon pass. There won’t be one stone left upon another.

This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.     (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

  1. We need to see that we are living in a time of harvest.

 The Spirit of the Lord is saying to us,

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.    (John 4:35)

Jesus expected those disciples to be able to scan the faces of the Samaritan multitude that was coming down the road and hear cries of God-hunger rising from their hearts.

 Lift up your eyes and see!

 So He says to us,”Don’t be talking about the final harvest of this earth as something still to begin friend, it’s here. And every believer reading these words is being sent to labor in it. Not starting next month, but right now!”

 “But Lord, I’m sorry. I simply cannot see the harvest you’re talking about. All I can see is a world loaded with cold, hostile people. Every time I open my mouth I get rebuffed. All I ever get is ridicule and hatred.”

 Look through the ridicule and the hostility to what is really there, just as you look through the red morning sky to the rain that’s on its way.

  1. We need to see that we are living in a time of trouble.

The Spirit of the Lord is saying to us,

 “Can’t you see that Jesus is Lord over the storm?”

“Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging  waves, and they ceased,  and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” (Matthew 8:24-25)

 “Where is your faith, why can’t you see?”

 It was a storm all the time, not just out on the lake, and the Lord of the storm was with them.

There is not one of us who is not surrounded by uncertainty. Absurd things are happening to us. Our lives and circumstances are becoming less and less predictable. But our Lord expects us to see that in the middle of all this-  He is with us – Lord over the storm – that not one thing is out of His control.

The same Lord who walked with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace is walking with His saints in the furnace of affliction. He doesn’t keep them out of the furnace, He keeps them safe in God in the heart of the flame, in the center of the storm.

  1. We need to see that we are living in a time of temptation – the temptation to compromise.

The Spirit of God is saying to us,

 “Can’t you see that any compromise with evil is death?”

 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (Matthew 18:9)

The name of this world is compromise. Mix a little good in with the bad and who can condemn you? Do a few good things to take the sting out of a lifetime of selfishness, and who can condemn you? And, if you’re living for the Kingdom, bless your heart, that’s nice, but keep a few bridges open back to the world in case it gets too rough.

How many men and women of God who should know better have fallen for this. They don’t call it compromise. They call it “being practical”, “using common sense”, and down they go…. life after life, church after church.

 Whoever puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.

Every time we start to compromise with the world, and the Spirit convicts us, if we’ll listen and do something about it, we’re preserved. But when we harden our hearts and close our eyes to what God is showing us and go right on compromising, our light goes out.

 ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.    (Revelation 2:19-20)

To compromise!

While the believers sit around discussing the battle, arguing about the proper weapons to use, the enemy continues his work and the harvest languishes for lack of reapers.

 The message of the Spirit to the church across the earth, at this hour is,open your eyes to what’s taking place outside the castle, and act!

“When you see a cloud rising out of the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to inter­pret the present time?”

“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man.”

                                             Matthew 24

Jesus keeps it simple.

 He just says, “Pay attention”.

 “See that no one leads you astray.”

 He gives no time frame.

 Jesus simply stands at the door of the Kingdom and keeps saying, “Come on in!”

 Once we enter the Kingdom, we’re ready for the final hour, no matter when it comes.


We keep our eyes on the kingdom and our hearts on the King.

We walk in his light.

We practice his mercy.

We speak the truth.

We love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.

And let the fire fall when it will!

Prayer: Yes Lord, help us to lift our eyes and see, really see what is going on around us. Help us not only to see, but also to interpret the times we are in. Help us to discern your judgment of the evil that is permeating every corner of this earth. Help us to see the harvest before us now…the hungry, misguided, lost souls. Help us to see, believe, and live like you are still Lord in the midst of the darkness, chaos and troubles. Help us see and not be tempted to compromise with the evil around us and to be led astray. And most of all help us not only to see these things but to act… and yes, yes. to keep our eyes and hearts on you …to keep walking in your light…to keep practicing your mercy…to keep speaking the truth … and to keep loving you and others with all that we have. Amen.

Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber 2005 …the added ending from a 2021 short “Like the Days of Noah”   Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Jane Spencer   Website: The Secret Place on Facebook

 Posted September 22, 2023


In Ezekiel 34 we observe a strange transfer of power from the official shepherds of Israel back to the Lord himself.

The Problem

The word of the Lord came to me:  “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?  

You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 

The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed,  the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.  

So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered;  they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

Ezekiel 34:1-6

The “official” shepherds have messed up, big time

   …..and the sheep have suffered.


 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:  As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep,  therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:  Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

Ezekiel 34:7-10

They are fired ….the sheep are rescued from their greedy mouths.

The Kingdom

For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country.  I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.  I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God.  I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

Ezekiel 34:11-16

The Lord himself becomes the Shepherd.

        But how does he do it all?

With under-shepherds

Through the Messiah, Jesus, who has now called us to be “unofficial” shepherds under his direction. Jesus is the Shepherd, embodying his Father’s will, and working through those who receive his mind.

His mind

 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 42-45)

No one can be effective as an under-shepherd of the Lord Jesus until this lesson is learned.  James and John still hadn’t “got it” after all their time with Jesus.  Many of us still don’t “get it.”

  1.     The “lust for position” mentality.
  2.     The “executive board” mentality.
  3.     The “celebrity” mentality.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.     (Philippians 2:5-11) 

The heart of Jesus is love.

The mind of Jesus is servanthood.

We need both.

We think of ourselves as servants,

But is it Servants (capital “S”)?  

Or servants (small “s”)?

Pleasing Him

As Jesus’ first priority was to please his Father, our first priority is to please him.

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?……Feed my sheep.”

 In obedience to him,

Under his direction,

Using his methods, not our own,

We feed the sheep with such a clear word from him,

 —that they become his disciples.

—that they are constantly built up and strengthened as his disciples.(as opposed to groupies gathered around our own “dynamic personalities”) 

Daily cultivating the mind of Christ

1. Prayer as the foundation of our ministry.

Daily giving thanks and praise to God.

Daily listening through immersion in scripture as a source of communion.

Daily intercession …Starting with our own family and extending to the entire “flock” and beyond.

2. Faithful under God in dealing with our own households.

       Our spouse.       Our kids.       Our aging parents etc.

3.     Staying in personal touch with the “sheep.” 


Phone calls.



Special emphasis on the “invisible” ones whom nobody sees.

If our prayer life is healthy we will never be at a loss as to who to reach out to.

4.     Striving for Peace and Holiness.

By the Spirit’s power, making Hebrews 12:14 a daily reality: 

“Strive for peace with all men and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” 

Including sexual purity as expressed by our Lord in Matthew 5:29:

“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” 

5.     Faithful to God in the unrighteous mammon. 

“If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches.”  (Luke 16:11) 

No under-shepherd is safe with the Spirit’s authority who is….




Stingy……with money. 

“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 

How can we expect the ones we serve to “live and breathe” Jesus, unless they see in us at least a hint of what that means?

Prayer: Oh Lord, Loving, Perfect Shepherd…how thankful we are that you, yourself have sought us, that you, yourself feed us and bring us to good pasture…That you, yourself bind up our wounds and strengthen us. How wonderful you are. Lord help us to honor you by being kind, loving, attentive under-shepherds. Help us to feed your sheep…out of our love for you, out of a need to please you. Oh Lord, may we never take advantage of them, or rule them harshly, or forget them, or even try to feed ourselves off of them. And convict and stop those who do. Instead, we come to you for help in being good shepherds….daily. Daily we need your help in shepherding our families, our friends, the lonely, the scattered, the overlooked. Daily we need your help to conquer our greed. Daily we need your help to be conscientious workers. Daily we need your help to conquer divisive spirits within us. Daily we need your help to strive for peace and holiness and purity. Yes, Lord help us to live and breathe you… so we may be the good shepherds you call us to be. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Message: Richard E. Bieber 2006   Sharable/Printable Copy
Featured Artist: Permission and Kindness of Jorge Cocco Santangelo    Website:

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