Feed My Sheep

I like the reminders by Dennis Tolar at Word of Promise Ministries’  blog

The Lord has had me repent of pride in correcting a brother or sister many years ago. He showed me:

Romans 14:1-4 “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

As I prayed about the meaning of it, the Lord reminded me of how He restored Peter after He had denied Jesus. Remember that Peter had boasted in pride about his own faith that he would never abandon Jesus or deny Him. Yet, he did deny Him three times within Jesus’ hearing just as Jesus told him he would do. When Jesus restored him and asked him if he loved Him, He told Peter what he could do as an act of love toward Him.

It was Jesus’ passion and purpose to die for all of mankind so that they wouldn’t have to spend eternity in hell. Jesus wanted Peter to “feed My sheep.” Many today think that they are to beat the sheep into subjection, but if we do that we are beating the very ones Jesus died for and instructed not just Peter, but all of us to do… feed His sheep.

We get so caught up in being “right” about an issue that even if we don’t beat them, many times we do not feed them. We all grow at different rates.  Also, we have not all had the same life experiences to learn from. So where one may be more mature in one area, the other may be more mature in another because God has already brought them through certain trials to teach them. Jesus would rebuke His disciples from time to time about having little faith, but that is fine, He is the Lord.

Romans COMMANDS US to bear with those who are weak in faith either in all areas or in just some areas of life. Jesus isn’t concerned about how RIGHT WE ARE in a debate, He wants us to lead and plead with not only the sinner but also the faithful who simply may not understand. HE IS NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH. He rebuked the Pharisees for traveling land and sea to win one convert but then because of their harsh rigidness would make that convert more a “child of hell” than they themselves were.

Romans 14:9-11 “For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11For it is written:
“As I live, says the LORD,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

We see here that God will have His day and that one day everyone will know He is Lord. The question is, did we show everyone in our life the love and forgiveness that Christ did so that they could know Jesus died for them. Could they look at the way we treated them and know it was true that Jesus cried out from the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

John 3:17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Do we negate such a message of love by being harsh with our brethren? Romans 14 is saying that we are RIGHT in thinking we can now eat foods as long as is is received with thanksgiving, but if our eating of that food causes our brother to be offended then we have sinned against our brother.

Romans 14:12-18 “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.”

Yes, we are to “prove all things” but we must be cautious in the way in which we do it. We must prove things, not people’s hearts, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit, not ours. I see all too often mere men trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit and it is ruinous in the hearts of the hearers!

This is what the Holy Spirit was saying through Paul inRomans 14:22 “Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.” In other words, don’t go around all puffed up because you have faith in areas that others don’t.  Don’t be haughty because you understand and someone else doesn’t. We are ambassadors of Christ, we have been given a ministry of reconciliation, so that the world and even the apostate church, His bride for whom He died, would be reconciled unto Him.

Romans 14:19-22 “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. 22Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”

When I get too critical of others, the Lord reminds me of this scripture.

James 5:9-11 “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 10My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”

My heart breaks for some of the bickering I’ve seen within the church and I kept silent asking for the Lord to intervene by His Spirit and I would not speak up until He instructed me to. Children of God, we must get back to feeding His sheep, His sheep, His sheep, they aren’t ours to do with what we will!! Behold, the Judge is at the door!!! And He has a message for His church! GET OUT OF MY SEAT!!!!!!

May God have mercy on us all. Please LORD, restore us unto Yourself!

 

[I broke some of it up into smaller paragraphs. Sorry, Dennis. I just like short paragraphs. Mind mind absorbs the truth better.]

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People of prayer

by J.C. Ryle

I believe that spiritual as well as natural greatness depends in a high degree on the faithful use of means within everybody’s reach. Of course I do not say we have a right to expect a miraculous grant of intellectual gifts; but I do say, that when a person is once converted to God, his progress in holiness will be much in accordance with their own diligence in the use of God’s appointed means. And I assert confidently that the principle means by which most believers have become great in the church of Christ — is the habit of diligent private prayer.

Look through the lives of the brightest and best of God’s servants, whether in the Bible or not. See what is written of Moses and David and Daniel and Paul. Mark what is recorded of Luther and Bradford the Reformers. Observe what is related of the private devotions of Whitefield and Cecil and Venn and Bickersteth and McCheyne. Tell me of one of the goodly fellowship of saints and martyrs, who has not had this mark most prominently — they were men of prayer. Depend on it, prayer is power.   Prayer obtains fresh and continued outpourings of the Spirit. He alone begins the work of grace in a person’s heart. He alone can carry it forward and make it prosper. But the good Spirit loves to be entreated. And those who ask most — will have most of his influence.

A Call to Prayer

Blessed be Your name

One of the really good new hymns. This one is by Matt Redman, a writer of incredible talent.

 

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

[prechorus]
Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

[chorus]
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Christians have a remarkable capacity to live insular lives

by Mark Lauterbach:

I have found, over years, that Christians have a remarkable capacity to live insular lives (do does everyone, really). I have asked people in churches where I serve to name people outside of the church with whom they have had thoughtful conversations. I have asked them to list the people they know for the Gospel. I usually get a short or a very short list.

It is what you are rather than what you say

by William Lane Craig

When people see this—our love for one another and our unity through love—then they will in turn be drawn by this to Christ and will respond to the gospel’s offer of salvation. More often than not, it is what you are rather than what you say that will bring an unbeliever to Christ. This, then, is the ultimate apologetic. For the ultimate apologetic is: your life.

~  Reasonable Faith (1994), pp 301–302.

Pleading With God in Prayer

A few days ago I received an email from a reader of this site and I found that much of it has universal application. Each one of us struggles with these questions at times. For that reason, and with his permission, I will make my response public. Here is a part of what he sent me:

Personal situation with universal question: My wife and I are adopting 2 kiddos from Africa that have HIV. That’s all planned, no surprise, grace given to us to do so, praise be to God. Throughout this, I continuously pray for my kiddos over there. Yelling, crying, heart wrenching (I’m tearing up right now thinking about it) kind of prayers. They are very sick, and I want my babies home with me. They’re dying of starvation and little medication over there. I don’t feel like I keep praying the same prayers because I don’t believe God cares or can take care of it, I pray because it’s breaking my heart, I badly want by children home, and I want it to stay as a “top-shelf issue” in front of God. Am I wrong in my theology and practice by continuing to pray for the same thing? I sometimes feel that it’s blasphemous to re-pray something, as if I’m insinuating that God is not listening, doesn’t care, doesn’t remember, or needs to re-prioritize His to-do list.

And now my answer.

Over the past few weeks I have been reading a book by David McIntyre called The Hidden Life of Prayer and just yesterday I read a section that looks at petitioning God in prayer. McIntyre offers up some thoughts that are directly applicable to your situation. He says that the foundational reason we ought to ask God for the things that are important to us is that God commands us to. It is as simple as that. All through the Bible we are told things like “make your requests known to God” (Philippians 4:6). And so we pray to God in obedience to God.

But a question remains: why? Why would the Lord choose to do things in this way, to have us ask him and even repeatedly plead with him for his blessings. McIntyre offers four reasons and I think these reasons come into sharper focus the longer and the more fervently we pray.

  1. Dependence. “By prayer our continued and humble dependence on the grace of God is secured. If the bestowments of the covenant came to us without solicitation, as the gifts of nature do, we might be tempted to hold ourselves in independence of God, to say, ‘My power, and the might of mine hand, hath gotten me this wealth’ (Deut. 8:17).”
  2. Communion. “The Lord desires to have us much in communion with Himself. The reluctance of the carnal heart to dwell in God’s presence is terrible. We will rather speak of Him than to Him. How often He finds occasion to reprove us, saying, ‘The companions hearken to thy voice; cause Me to hear it.’ A father will prize an ill-spelled, blotted-scrawl from his little child, because it is a pledge and seal of love. And precious in the sight of the Lord are the prayers of His saints.”
  3. Preparation. “Much, very much, has often to be accomplished in us before we are fitted to employ worthily the gifts we covet. And God effects this preparation of heart largely by delaying to grant our request at once, and so holding us in the truth of His presence until we are brought into a spiritual understanding of the will of Christ for us in this respect. If a friend, out of his way (Luke 11:6), comes to us, hungry, and seeking from us the bread of life, and we have nothing to set before him, we must go to Him who has all store of blessing. And if He should seem to deny our prayer, and say, ‘Trouble Me not,’ it is only that we may understand the nature of the blessing we seek, and be fitted to dispense aright the bounty of God.”
  4. Cooperation. “Once more, we are called to be fellow-laborers together with God, in prayer, as in all other ministries. The exalted Saviour ever lives to make intercession; and to His redeemed people He says, ‘Tarry ye here, and watch with Me’ (Matt. 26:38). There is a great work to be done in the hearts of men, there is a fierce battle to be waged with spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. Demons are to be cast out, the power of hell to be restrained, the works of the devil to be destroyed. And in these things it is by prayer above all other means that we shall be able to co-operate with the Captain of the Lord’s host.”

Let me encourage you with McIntyre’s encouragement: Take heart and to see that the Lord is accomplishingsomething through your prayers, something greater than if he were to give you what you desire apart from fervent, tear-filled prayers. He is creating within you a greater dependence on him, he is establishing greater communion with you, he is preparing you for the final answer to that prayer, and he is giving you the privilege of cooperating with him in this world. That he is forcing you to wrestle with him in prayer flows out of his goodness, not out of ambivalence or miserliness.

So don’t lose heart. Don’t lose heart, and don’t feel guilty about praying again and again, even in the same way for the same thing. I’m sure you will find it a joy to read and meditate upon Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8). Luke says “he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” The very purpose of this parable is to encourage us in prayer, not only to pray, but to keep on praying and after that to keep on some more. It is an argument from the lesser to the greater. Jesus says, “If even an unjust human judge will eventually give in to continual pleadings, how much more will a good God answer your petitions?”

Finally, remember as you pray that God is your Father. This gives you the right and privilege of relating to him as a son. It may be helpful to consider how you would speak to your earthly father if he was the one who had the power and ability to release those children to you. How would you speak to him? What would you ask? Speak to God in that way. Be respectful, of course, acknowledging his position and authority, but plead with him as a son pleads with a father. Make your case, be clear with what you think you and those children need, and trust that God’s purposes are even better and even more loving than your own.

From Tozer’s Man: The Dwelling Place of God

by A.W. Tozer One would think he was seeing today’s seeker-sensitive, market-driven and emergent movements. He died many decades ago. His insight on many subjects still challenge us today.
Without biblical authority, or any other right under the sun, carnal religious leaders have introduced a host of attractions that serve no purpose except to provide entertainment for the retarded saints
It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction.  It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God.  One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments. …
Any objection to the carryings on of our present gold-calf Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, “But we are winning them!”  And winning them to what?  To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world?  To crucifixion of the flesh?  To holy living?  To nobility of character?  To a despising of the world’s treasures?  To hard self-discipline?  To love for God?  To total committal to Christ?  Of course the answer to all these questions is no.
Man: The Dwelling Place of God, p.136)