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!

The Will of God

Is the will of God something we have naturally obtained? When I look at the will of God concerning humans, my thoughts turn to duties that God assigns as a specific task for us to fulfill. One thing that is always in the picture of the will of God, is that He receives the glory and honor in everything we do. Is it not true that when our ability is admired, we receive the glory? Where the Bible speaks about the will of God, it never mentions anything that can be accomplished with much practice or great mental ability on our part. Certainly, we all must work to be able to feed ourselves, as the Bible indicates. So, is the will of God in what we do for a living or our common practices in fulfilling obligations? What is the will of God? If the will of God is not included in our work, then the vast majority of Christians would be outside of the will of God.

In the prior writing, I spoke of the three specific forms of God’s will. His good, acceptable, and perfect will. I wrote about the requirements for finding God’s will for our life. Once our own way is surrendered to Christ, His way becomes a visible picture to follow. There are so many people who try to surrender things, but fail to surrender their own way. This writing is a preface to a deeper teaching in the following writings concerning our body, soul, and spirit.

I understand that man is made of three specific functions. The body, soul, and spirit are the triune manifest of the human being. The body is the earthen vessel which was made from the dust of the ground. The soul was the result of the breath of God when He created Adam. The spirit is the divine central heart of the being, and is the very place indwelled by the Holy Spirit.

First, I want to look at the function of the body. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our body contains all three relative functions designed by God, enabling us to do His will. Within this body, we are entirely capable of doing the will of God. When a man becomes born-again, he is brand-new and needs to function in a completely new way. Here is where the word, obedience enters the picture. Obedience is always to one thing; it is continually to the will of God. Knowing the will of God is of utmost importance so that we can fulfill that which we have been created for. We have been created in His image and His likeness. I believe the ‘good will’ includes what the body or human being does. The body does works primarily with hands and feet, and accomplishes things great and small. The body carries the soul and spirit, and transports these functions to where they need to be. The body is needed to function in the good will of God and it is within our body that the soul and spirit can function.

The soul is where our mind, will, and emotion are contained. This is the means of decision for the function of our being. I want to use a simple form of explanation—if our mind says go, and our will says go, and our emotions say go, guess what happens? We go! Our mind decided the direction of our feet. Our will decided to follow through and step forward. The emotions told us how fast to step. This is a simple way of understanding our functions. Our soul must be in subjection to a higher power or else it will fail in every way. Our soul needs to understand the acceptable will of God in the way it adapts its behavior to the purpose it serves.

Our spirit is the antenna that receives hearing by way of inspiration, enlightenment, and revelation. If our spirit is tainted with our self-life, we can easily hear wrong through our imagination and be deceived like Eve. Our spirit is the deeper compartment of our being. This part of our life needs a deeper transformation, otherwise the Holy Spirit will not function there. It must remain in a constant state of transformation by way of daily death, and resurrection. It is in this compartment that the perfect will of God is revealed.

The spirit of man yields upwards in spiritual quest to know God and His ways. Ecclesiastes 3:21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? The transformed spirit of man is spiritually-minded, and the carnal man is earthly-minded. It is within the spirit of man that the Holy Spirit dwells and empowers the whole being to do the perfect will of God.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. V.10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Finding the Will of God

Today I will write about two key verses that have brought clear direction to me throughout much of my Christian experience. Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. V.2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

In my young Christian life, I used to have the constant question – ‘how can I know the will of God for my life?’. I would also hear this question among many of my fellow youth during question-and-answer periods among our group. In those years, my future looked like a blur with no clear definition. I also never heard any minister of the gospel give a clear answer to my question. It was not until I set out to seek God for a revolutionizing change in my life, that I found these life-changing verses. When I followed the direction of this verse, immediately I found God’s will for my life. I have relived this verse many times throughout the ministry that God has placed upon me, to assure me, to hold me, to recommit the vision for my life.

Life, at times, becomes very complicated and extremely difficult to endure concerning God’s will and how we relate to it. We are challenged on every side to lay down what has been placed in our heart. If the enemy can cancel our submission to the will of God, then we will walk in our own will!

How do I find God’s will for my life? The clear key is to present our body as a sacrifice before God. We die to our own ideas, hang-ups, desires, and all private reservations as we lay them completely and unreservedly before the Lord without any hesitation. This is one complete package of surrender; it is all given up here. All fear and doubt and personal initiative is brought before God with one thing in mind—we will lay it down, and leave it there. All becomes silenced and final. This we do before the Lord as a lamb to the slaughter. This entire surrender to God is not unreasonable in any way, but is simply what God desires before He can lead us further. Let’s take a moment and do this today before the Lord.

What just transpired is called holy and acceptable to God, and He calls it “reasonable service”. Now our personal conformity to the world has lost its grip on our soul. It has shed itself from us, and has no more control over us in this position. Conformity to the world has all to do with our mind, and our thinking. We used to want approval from the world; now we desire approval from God alone. When we present our body as a living sacrifice before God in a spiritual sense, we become holy and acceptable before God in a moment.

The next thing we notice is that there has been a renovation of the mind. We are transformed by the renewed mind. The mind does not bear the old things nor the despicable struggles that enticed us at one time. Old arguments linger no longer, they have left us, and we are not controlled by those thoughts anymore. They lay dead at the feet of Jesus. When things are surrendered, they lose their power in a moment. It is alone in this state of surrender that our mind is renewed in a notable way. Now the will of God for our life becomes clear before us. Now, being transformed by the renewing of our mind, we may prove the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We can now understand the will of God because we have the mind of Christ.
There are three distinctive forms of God’s will:
1. His good will.
2. His acceptable will.
3. His perfect will.
God leads us in these as He sees us in three consecutive depths of surrender. The more spiritually mature we become in Christ, the deeper our purpose within His will is revealed. The deeper the perfection that the Holy Spirit’s refining brings, the more perfect His will becomes for us to fulfill. There is clearly a good, acceptable and perfect will of God.

When your deep surrender to God becomes a genuine reality, there arises a spiritual passion that is formed within to do a specific task known as the will of God. This task is one that rests in your heart as a burden and does not go away. This task is what God will lead you into only as you live a surrendered life. This alone is how we know and do the will of God. It is never complicated, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Hallelujah!

1 John 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Strength in Weakness

When a man exercises his assertive strength, he will discover how incapable he really is spiritually. Flesh will always produce flesh, as will a spiritual man produce that which is spiritual. Before God can greatly use those He has anointed, He must break all within that is not anointed. The only way the anointing of God can flourish with strength, is for the human vessel to surrender in complete willingness to work under the authority of God. This will weaken the strength of the naturally empowered icon of self and easy ability. God must break our strength till we operate in divine strength. When we exercise in weakness, we do not sit idle either. Exercising our purpose in weakness is like seeing roadblocks everywhere around us. The only way forward is simple day to day faith, moving towards that which divinely inspires our heart. Spiritual weakness allows us to function in broken inspiration and reverence to our maker. The spiritual transformation of a child of God is a divine process that cannot be ignored, nor should it ever be misunderstood. It is a very difficult and lonely place where understanding is seldom realized.

Many admire the huge success of building a large formation when all is wood, hay, and stubble. The display is admired, well-regarded, and heavily supported because of fascination with the aspirations of a dreamer’s dream. It is so often true that the eagerness of one’s desire to impress the emperor within, ignites desires of competitive achievement under the title of spiritual burdens. What God is seeking within a man is simple faithfulness. This is the only way that God can do great things with small things. When we exercise our weakness through the strength of faith, we will see the strength of God. God is not visible in our strength, only in our weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. What causes the man of God to operate in the strength of God? Once we find pleasure in specific related infirmities, we have been transformed. When reproaches for righteousness’ sake become the surrounding echoes of cheer in the valley of shadows, you know that you are in rich pastures of the heavenly kind. When necessities howl a wondering cry without echoes, you know a form of weakness so strong that it surpasses the riches in the land. The spiritual persecutions only come to the Godly who live in Christ. But many are persecuted because of their wrong doing and it is rightly deserved and must never be understood as the same.

These spiritual distresses are for Christ’s sake, not for our sake. They are designed to advance God’s kingdom into territories so deep, that none could ever endure except the strengthless (yet empowered) heaven-bound soul! These are places that are God-designed for His specific purposes. These are extremes of power and display His truth to the heavenly accompaniment of witnesses! These are Daniels in a den of close-mouthed lions. These are Elijahs on the run, desperate to only hear a voice of direction, with Baal’s prophets’ blood on his mantle and Jezebel in his ear. These are Pauls in a spiritual shipwreck on the sea of captivity heading toward the court of his enemies. These are Johns thrown on the island of Patmos, into the wild teeth of raging enemies where God whispers the depth of His Revelation, so profound that most fail comprehension.

God is available as our strength, but only after we reach our limitation of ability. If our limitations are not truthfully recognized, then God’s strength is not needed to do our task. True dependence upon the Holy Spirit is only known within the private confinement of one’s honest heart. This reliance is revered and held in faith so deeply that its surroundings feel like a temperamental place of awful uncertainty. Herein lies the power of spiritual weakness; it is the eye of the hurricane. The dunamis power is beyond the immediate visible circle of torrent winds. The eye produces no power, but without the eye there is no power, nor wind, nor strength.

A heart that boasts its dependence does not walk in weakness but in superficial hollowness. Truly recognized limitations of personal strength will always bring humiliation to the soul. If our own powerful ways and ideas do not experience this sobering humiliation, then apparent surrender to the cross is not genuine. Where there is no cross there is no Jesus, where there is no Jesus there is no Holy Spirit, where there is no Holy Spirit, there is no divine power to supervene all the strength of man and God’s work is completely limited within that man.