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This month's teaching : Repentance

Shepherded – Part 3

Deeper understanding of the kingdom of God is missed by so many due to spiritual shallowness, irreverence, and inconsistency in the fear of God. Psalm 25:14 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. (Emphasis added.) Here we see there are secrets that God only reveals to those who fear Him. Walking in the fear of the Lord is the place where true wisdom begins to permeate the child of God through revelation concerning covenant-living. This wisdom is imputed holiness and righteousness that dwells among true followers of God. A fundamental responsibility placed upon the child of the kingdom is discerning the body of Christ and its earthly function.

Many attempt to fulfill their earthly function through using worldly mindsets and strategies to corner true sheep, or even good shepherds that have given their life for the flock of God. We are experiencing signs of the closing age more than ever before. The roaring lion is out in full force unleashing his tools of demise on those who are vulnerable creatures of prey without the nature of a lamb or sheep. This age of rebellion is so deceptive that even these targeted victims do not realize that their plight is disobedience to God and His kingdom principles. Only the true sheep know the difference between the fox or the prophet (shepherd). Ezekiel 13:3 Thus saith the Lord God; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! V.4 O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. The true shepherds hear from God, but foxes work to outsmart and snoop around seeking out every little splinter they can use to pierce a tender heart within the faithful and truthful.

The truth and glory of being shepherded is in opening the heart in submission and humility to the correction and perfection of the loving hands of God. The selfish desires of serving our own will God cannot use. Our will must be shepherded into a deep surrender through which His love can be manifested. Even the perfect Lamb of God could not perform His own will. This perfect Lamb found His will to be a plea for the removal of the bitter cup that night in Gethsemane. Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. This submission of the Lamb of God enabled Him to become the Shepherd of all shepherds. This same truth now is the way in which shepherds are formed for the true sheep of the flock of God. The shepherded child of God begins as a lamb and transitions into a mature sheep and, if God chooses, can then also become a useful servant of unfeigned obedience to the call and will of God. There are some who esteem themselves as shepherds but have never found the courage to allow true discipleship to form their life. They maintain the nature of foxes with ideas to outsmart and outdo one another so as to draw sheep after themselves. These are not true shepherds and are very dangerous.

John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. V.2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. A true shepherd is one who enters in by the door and does not lead where he has never been nor speaks what is not in his own heart. Certainly, there are those who have climbed the walls by learning how to do things in their own way, but they never became a true lamb or sheep walking with a shepherd next to them. These have never learned the Shepherd’s voice because they know not the life of a lamb; they are thieves and will eventually pursue sheep-robbery. I cannot stress enough the value and ultimate importance of desiring true life-surrendering discipleship. It is only a lamb or a true sheep that can embrace soul-correction and spiritual reformation from a human shepherd. Many desire correction directly from Jesus or the Holy Spirit, because it is too humbling to receive discipleship from a fellow human shepherd. However, this is God’s way of wisdom in forming us after His desire. Let us not forget, man will never become a spiritual shepherd unless he has first learned a life of surrender and gone in through the same door of the sheepfold. Who is my earthly shepherd? It is not a book, a CD, a DVD, or broadcast. It is someone you walk with. Hallelujah!

Shepherded – Part 2

As we continue to learn about this subject of shepherding, we see that the description of true disciples is that of individuals transformed by the power and Word of God. This miraculous transformation completely changes the nature of the natural man into a divine nature that is spiritual and realistic. The new nature developed within a person changes him, and he becomes as a sheep desiring the presence of a higher source on whom it can depend. Many sincere children of God carry a deep concern that they would be led by the Spirit of God, which is part of the well-being of the saint. We must embrace this verse Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. With great carefulness we order our steps in the healthy fear of God. The idea that once we are led by the Spirit of God we become sons, is not arranged in the correct succession. Sons of God are led because within them they have an unquenchable desire to be led into a place of trust, following the voice of the Spirit.

From where does the voice of the Spirit proceed? It comes from the Spirit of God and must be discerned regardless through whom it is voiced. True Sons of God have moved beyond their own prejudice concerning whom they perceive to be carriers of His voice. God even used an ass to speak to Balaam. If we are still offended by the carrier of the true voice of God, then we will not be coherent to the sound of His voice and therefore will disregard the importance of being Spirit-led. The true discernment of the vessel being used is in the voice rather than what is spoken. John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. As the shepherd knows his sheep so the sheep know his voice. There is clear communication between the shepherd and the sheep. Let us never forget that one of Christ’s very close disciples spoke the words of Satan. He simply questioned the necessity of Jesus’ journey to the cross, and Jesus told Satan to get behind him. The suggestion from Satan through Peter was life without death; the voice of the Holy Spirit is life through death. The Holy Spirit brought spiritual glorification through resurrection in the body of Jesus after He died (never to die again).

The voice of the Spirit is what we must trust because it does not change. Man can change and camouflage their intention, but the tone, voice, and purpose simply cannot be disguised when it comes from the Holy Spirit. John 18:37 says that everyone that is of truth heareth His voice. Here we understand that if a man does not dwell in truth about himself and is living a counterfeit life, then he will not hear the voice of the Spirit of God. It is only the pure heart that receives tuning, like an instrument of music, on a constant basis. Abiding sin, preconceived ideas, and even dislikes will obstruct us from acknowledging the voice of the Holy Spirit.

True sheep are led by a voice that changes them. A great eternal division is described at the end of time; there will be a clear dividing. The dividing line is drawn between sheep and goats. Always be aware of loners in the kingdom. Through years of experience, I consider those who have not been under the spiritual care of a pastor to be dangerous people who are tossed, taken, and led by self—ruled by a deep root of some bitterness. These people are not clothed in true righteousness and holiness. Because of the distance they strive to maintain, they will follow those who do not necessitate personal discipleship. True sheep will seek to be discipled on a constant basis and will maintain a close relationship with their shepherd, desiring correction within. This is a healthy day-to-day experience that cannot be maintained by an author from a distance. Writings such as these cannot replace true discipleship and rubbing elbows in maintained relationship with the pastor who watches over your soul. This is God’s way of bringing personal spiritual development and is an absolute necessity for true discipleship. In the book of Jude we find those who have not learned discipleship God’s way. You cannot be discipled by a shepherd you cannot walk with. The disciples of Jesus walked with Him and communicated with Him constantly. Jesus corrected them, and they received His correction—all except the one who betrayed Him. Don’t be that one.

So, being disciples of Christ, we learn to walk under those called to lead and fulfill God’s necessity of discipleship within us. May I conclude further that a person will never add much value in the Kingdom of God, regardless of appearances, until he becomes a sheep who finds no offense in being shepherded? This wisdom is alone by God’s design. Hallelujah!

Shepherded – Part 1

Being shepherded is a very difficult position for most religious individuals to hold. To be divinely shepherded by the great Shepherd requires humble submission and simple obedience. So long as we provide the answers, and find ourselves capable of living them out on our own, we stand in great personal lack in the eyes of our heavenly Shepherd. Along our path of pilgrimage, we often face times and places where we desire to hold onto everything except answers that truly settle our questions.

True sheep rarely know exactly where to go and must almost always be led to secure places. When sheep are led into a building, they are generally incapable of making sensible judgement of where they should go until they are in the sheep stall. Most buildings look dangerous to sheep until they find their stall. The sheep stall can be in a field, valley, or cave; on a hillside, or in a building great or small. You see, the sheep stall is near the presence of the Shepherd and offers a place of peace and safety that no other can offer. Spiritual people will see the parallel in their own lives and the places into which they are led. There is tremendous comfort in being led by a greater hand, unseen, yet trusted. It is a hand of protection, comfort, and peace. So few people understand this experience because they are in charge of their own lives, having their own ambition and controlling their own territory. Matthew 9:36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. It is obvious that there are many who refuse the Shepherd because of an inner condition that resists the unknown.

True sheep don’t possess the need to know, therefore at times they live with so many questions, bringing them into states of perplexity and even bewilderment. God knows that when a sheep is bewildered the Shepherd’s voice will be heard clearly when He speaks. Imagine the weeping of a bewildered lamb, not hearing anything beyond its own cries of mourning, as it strains to hear the sound of a distant shepherd. It seems that often the saints of God mourn for the voice, the touch, and the presence of the Messiah as they gaze into the distance, yet He is next to them in unfelt presence. At once, in a long and lonely valley, the sheep is touched by the invisible hand, hearing that familiar voice of peace and comfort.

Our master Shepherd loves for us to desire Him. He longs for our patience to endure and for our peace to be perfected in Him. He loves to see our joy multiplied as we endure things that are difficult beyond words. Our own understanding is often perplexed and found unfruitful. Our great Shepherd will never leave us, nor will He ever forsake us, but He will cause us to seek after Him. It is in this condition that He can lead us to the streams unknown by goats or those of rebellious nature.

Jesus was led as a lamb to the slaughter and became the Savior of the world. Once the lamb-nature prevails within a saint, they can be led to usefulness beyond measure. The disposition of a lamb is one of following unconditionally because their trust is won, and they never allow distance between them and the Shepherd. The old nature tends to seek answers before it seeks the Shepherd. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are led. The security of this is feared by the majority as too flimsy to live by. When we are being led, the Shepherd is in control. He is being trusted and honored and will therefore lead us in the path of His own righteousness for His name’s sake. This is the place where David found that he could be led by the great Shepherd and not fear evil, even in the valley that had shadows of death and appearances of abrupt endings. Life goes on if you follow the great Master of Life, and He will most definitely lead you into deeper waters of restoration where even evil is not feared because you have learned the hand of the great Leader! Hallelujah!

Influenced

There is enormous significance in the source of influence which sways differing personalities by persuasion of thought or opinion. This is exactly what happened in Eden, the Garden of God. In the Kingdom of God, persuasion comes by spiritual inspiration, revelation, and even supernatural attestation at times. The true saint operates on a separate platform of truth. We need to gain an understanding on these elements of authority to discern the extreme evil within things that seem to be so insignificant and innocent. There is a mystery of iniquity that has cloaked the church for centuries, but it has become more prevalent in this latter day than ever before. Could it be that evil has more influential power than does heavenly truth? The church of our modern-day longs after the world in so many ways. We look to the world for ideas and influences to pattern our lives after. We’ve regressed into numb neutrality so that we can be like the world and do like the world does. We run churches like profit centers and businesses to raise the American dream, rather than maintaining a heavenly scene of spiritual power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. We apologize to the world and to sinners because we do not approve of sin. We have crept to the edge, trying to get as close to evil as we can while still in Christ.

The true saints of God are not enticed nor influenced by things seen or heard. The work of the Holy Spirit is a gentle raining of heavenly mist-like inspiration and spiritual gratitude that fills the soul with love, joy, and peace. The deathly nature of the world simply does not hold appeal to the true saints of God. We truly do not love the world, not even the things that are in the world. The thing that matters most for us is the power of the Holy Spirit to keep us in the purity and holiness of God. We despair over the realization of spiritual powerlessness. We spend hours in the Word of God for cleansing and understanding, as we seek His presence and to receive more of Him. We long to be influenced by Almighty God on a constant basis. We think about Christ all day long. His presence is real to us, and we plan our days accordingly so as not to neglect Him. He is like gentle rain to our soul. There are times when the influence of the Holy Spirit is so clear and abundant that it’s like receiving baptisms of Him for weeks and longer.
These are all things that the natural man finds foolish. 1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Let us remember once again—in the Kingdom of God, we are influenced by spiritual inspiration, heavenly enlightenment, and revelation from the presence of God. Our life is genuinely affected by our heavenly Father, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. When the presence of these spiritual influences is missing from our lives, we seek to be satisfied by other influences of fleshly enticement.

Have you ever noticed that certain people motivate you to live a Godly life? Have you also noticed that there are certain people that rob you of the love of God? It is all about influence. Ungodly personalities draw you away from God, even having the ability to do so in mere moments. Sanctified people of God draw you into His presence. They are influenced by heaven, and in turn, influence you in the same way. There are many spiritual thieves and robbers working in the name of Christianity with whom we rub elbows. Somehow, we think we ought to feel guilty that we do not want to be around them. Ask yourself this question: do my friends affect me towards a deeper walk with Jesus, or do they draw me away from Him? And remember—friends will do to you what you do to them, that is why you are friends!

Do I need to change my friendship with the world? Do I bring an influence of God-consciousness to them? Do people feel hesitant to cuss in your presence? Many times in my life I have prayed for true Christian friends. May I suggest that you do the same and ask the Lord to send the right people into your life, for friendship and for His glory. When God sends these people into your life, you cannot be possessive of them or they will not find friendship in you. The spiritual benefit goes both ways through heavenly influence, and oh yes, they are also a lot of fun! Hallelujah!!!