This month's teaching : Repentance

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!

The Bit and the Bridle

Psalm 32:9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

I was told the story that years ago there were two neighbor boys on the way home after an event, moving towards the little town of Trail, Ohio. The well-trained horse became extremely chaotic after it was hitched and was suddenly of a totally different nature for some unknown reason. It was almost completely out of control. His nature was so absurdly different that they questioned whether they had hitched the wrong horse to their buggy. They could not hold back the horse as it even blew through stop signs causing grave danger!

After a wild, chaotic ride for several miles, both boys took the reins that attach to the sides of the bridle and strong-armed the head of the horse to the point that one of the boys could jump off as they passed his homestead. They were hoping that the horse would get tired and lose its strength by the time they came to the final destination. The tumultuous ride continued until they crashed through the home barn doors and the wooden buggy was nothing but a pile of rubble. Happily the driver was not hurt and ran inside the barn till he caught the horse and brought him under control. What was the problem with this disorderly animal? After looking for answers, he noticed that the bit was never put in the mouth of the horse.

David gives us instruction on what guides a horse or a mule. The instruction is clear that when we have no understanding about the direction in which we are headed, we are on dangerous premises. If the bit and the bridle is our guiding principle we have no understanding.

There are many situations that we pass through in life that require understanding. Many times throughout my life I’ve asked the Lord for understanding on why I tend to have certain problems.

Here are some questions we need in order to inquire for understanding:
• What is it that discourages me?
• Why do I avoid certain issues?
• Why are certain issues more sensitive to me?
• Why are some temptations harder to resist?
• Why do some people seek to harm me?
• Why me, Lord?
• Why do I tend to avoid certain people?
• Why am I more reactionary towards certain things?
• Am I going through punishment or pruning?

Many personal questions arise in the believer’s heart that need tended to by way of understanding from the Lord. Do not neglect it with imaginations.

Understanding will replace the need for a bit and a bridle. When you have the understanding from the one who knows all things, you will not need a bit to hold in your mouth. How many times have you said: I will not bring that up again nor will I think about it anymore? The next thing you know, that is seemingly all you are thinking about again. Understanding brings things to rest every time. Have we not heard that most problems come from misunderstandings, which no one is excluded from, not even the wisest?

It was Solomon who asked the Lord for understanding to discern judgment, rather than long life, riches, or the lives of his enemies; God gave him understanding, which is filled with wisdom. God made him the wisest man on earth.

We are also carefully instructed not to lean on our own understanding. When we ask God for understanding, He will enlighten us in due time. Once we understand, it will rest. If it does not rest in the heart, it was not enlightenment from the Holy Spirit nor does it come from spiritual understanding from the Lord. I want to repeat that spiritual understanding will always rest and not be troubled. Entanglements and frustrations simply cease. Spiritual understanding is always enlightening and never darkened imagination.

Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

Psalm 119:130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

Proverbs 2:11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.