Saturday, 1 December 2018

Feed My Sheep

Scripture: Jeremiah 23 v 1 - 6: "Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
 2  Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
 3  And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
 4  And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.
 5  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
 6  In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

At the end of our Lord's life on Earth after His resurrection, He told Peter, If you love Me, feed My sheep.  Peter and the other Apostles did an excellent job that has carried the gospel to the whole world.

The Lord has always sought for those who will feed His sheep, progressing from the milk of the gospel to the meat that mature believers need to grow into effective witnesses and teachers of the deep things of God.

In the past thirty years or so, the deeper things have disappeared and even the milk has been watered down to a form of godliness but lacking even that power.  This is the general view and there are small beacons of hope here and there trying to bring the true light into gathering gloom and darkness.

Yesterday I received an e-mail from one such beacon headed, We Have Lost Christianity.  In the same hour a whatsapp message from an African pastor thanking me for the blog post, God Hears Us.  He said people don't preach this way anymore.

The ship called, Christianity, is sinking like the Titanic, broken and there are few lifeboats.  The ship has hit an iceberg called Compromise, and it has ripped its guts out.  It's going nowhere but down. 

The recent California wildfires, the worst ever, came at the same time as proposals and plans are being made to ban the Holy Bible.  The one infallible collection of writings that will keep mankind from Hell.  Paradise was burnt to the ground in those fires, will anyone connect the dots?

The loud voices of the recent past who warned and pleaded have passed into their heavenly home.  David Wilkerson wrote The Vision, back in the 1900's.  He had the same cataclysmic dream every night of the coming tribulation.  He saw the price of gold go beyond $800.  He saw the superstorms and the misery and destruction that hit.

He saw the state of the church universal becoming corrupt, heretical and compromised.  He warned the church that if they did not repent and bring solid food to their people, the consequences would be terrible.

Another bastion of righteousness was the late Dave Hunt, who exposed the rot in His book, The Seduction of Christianity, back in the 80's.  Many of the false pastors and false prophets he warned about are still being adored today.  They preach a politically correct, sweet, prosperity, repentance free gospel.  They are showmen on a glittering stage, entertaining those who feel good and virtuous from being in church..  There is very little of Jesus left in their lives.

There is very little emphasis on taking up the Cross and following Jesus Christ.  No wonder Jesus said, When I return will I find faith on the Earth?  He has no doubt that He will return, but as Adam and Eve rejected God in favour of the Serpent, how many are doing so today.

I stand together with the determined preachers of old.  Watchman Nee,  whose books on Christian living gather dust today.  The Welshman, Rees Howells, a powerful and obedient preacher and Intercessor, whose incredible understanding and consecration to God which gave him the baptism of the Holy Spirit, had him speaking at the Welsh Llandrindod Convention and bringing the house down.   Chapter 5 in Rees Howells, Intercessor, by Norman Grubb.

Here is an extract from this chapter.
“As he spoke,” Rees said, “the Holy Ghost appeared to me and I knew him to be the One who had spoken to me the day before and shown me that place of splendour and glory into which natural eyes can never look. It never dawned on me before that the Holy Ghost was a Person exactly like the Saviour, and that He must come and dwell in flesh and blood. In fact, the Church knows more about the Saviour, who was only on the earth thirty-three years, than about the Holy Ghost who has been here two thousand years. I had only thought of Him as an Influence coming on meetings, and that was what most of us in the Revival thought. I had never seen that He must live in bodies, as the Saviour lived in His on earth.” The meeting with the Holy Ghost was just as real to Rees Howells as his meeting with the Saviour those years before. “I saw Him as a Person apart from flesh and blood, and He said to me, ‘As the Saviour had a body, so I dwell in the cleansed temple of the believer. I am a Person. I am God, and I am come to ask you to give your body to Me that I may work through it. I need a body for My temple (1 Cor. 6:19), but it must belong to Me without reserve, for two persons with different wills can never live in the same body. Will you give me yours? (Rom. 12:1). But if I come in, I come as God, and you must go out (Col. 3:2–3). I shall not mix Myself with your self.’ “He made it very plain that He would never share my life. I saw the honor He gave me in offering to indwell me, but there were many things very dear to me, and I knew He wouldn’t keep one of them. The change He would make was very clear. It meant every bit of my fallen nature was to go to the cross, and He would bring in His own life and His own nature.” It was unconditional surrender. From the meeting Rees went out into a field where he cried his heart out because, as he said, “I had received a sentence of death, as really as a prisoner in the dock. I had lived in my body for twenty-six years, and could I easily give it up? Who could give his life up to another in an hour? Why does a man struggle when death comes, if it is easy to die? I knew that the only place fit for the old nature was on the cross. Paul makes that very plain in Romans 6. But once this is done in reality, it is done forever. I could not run into this. “I intended to do it, but oh, the cost! I wept for days. I lost seven pounds in weight, just because I saw what He was offering me. How I wished I had never seen it! One thing He reminded me of was that He had only come to take what I had already promised the Saviour, not in part, but the whole. “Since He died for me, I had died in Him, and I knew that the new life was His and not mine. That had been clear in my mind for three years; so He had only come to take what was His own. I saw that only the Holy Ghost in me could live like the Saviour. Everything He told me appealed to me; it was only a question of the loss there would be in doing it. I didn’t give my answer in a moment, and He didn’t want me to.” It took five days to make the decision, days which were spent alone with God. “Like Isaiah, I saw the holiness of God,” he said, “and seeing Him, I saw my own corrupt nature. It wasn’t sins that I saw, but nature touched by the Fall. I was corrupt to the core. I knew I had to be cleansed; I saw there was as much difference between the Holy Ghost and myself as between light and darkness. “Nothing is more real to me than the process I went through for that whole week,” he continued. “The Holy Spirit went on dealing with me, exposing the root of my nature which was self, and you can only get out of a thing what is in its root. Sin was cancelled, and it wasn’t sin He was dealing with; it was self—that thing which came from the Fall. “He was not going to take any superficial surrender. He put His finger on each part of my self-life, and I had to decide in cold blood. He could never take a thing away until I gave my consent. Then the moment I gave it, some purging took place (Isaiah 6:5–7), and I could never touch that thing again. It was not saying I was purged and the thing still having a hold on me: no, it was a breaking, and the Holy Ghost taking control. Day by day the dealing went on. He was coming in as God, and I had lived as a man, and ‘what is permissible to an ordinary man,’ He told me, ‘will not be permissible to you.’” This “Llandrindod experience” was the crisis, which was followed by the process of sanctification (see Mr. Howells’ own comment on p. 112) during which the Holy Spirit, on the basis of his initial surrender, step by step replaced the self-nature with His own divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). First there was the love of money, that “root of evil” which had formerly taken Rees to America. The Lord told him that He would take out of his nature all taste for money and any ambition for the ownership of money. “I had to consider what that meant,” Rees said. “Money would be no more to me than it was to John the Baptist or to the Saviour. To an extent this was dealt with in my new birth, but now the Holy Ghost was getting at the root.” The dealings on that lasted a whole day, and by the evening his “attitude towards money had entirely changed.” Then there was the fact that he would never have the right to a choice in making a home. “I saw I could never give my life to another person, to live to that one alone. Could the Saviour have given His life and attention to one person, instead of to a lost world? Neither could the Holy Ghost. He took plenty of time to show me exactly what it would mean: the life He would live would be for the world. Was I willing for that?” Among other things that were dealt with was ambition. How could he have any if the Holy Ghost came in? The way the Lord showed it to him was like this: Supposing he had a mission in a town and another mission opened in the same place; if there was jealousy between the two, and it was better for the town only to have one, then it would be his which would have to go. Or suppose that he and another man should apply for the same job; he would have to let the other have it. Or if he were earning 12s. a day, and another man with a family was earning much less, the Spirit could tell him to give his job to that man. He saw the Holy Ghost in ways like that taking the place of the other, and suffering instead of him. Yes, he was willing for that. On the fifth day his reputation was touched. As he was thinking of men of the Bible who were full of the Holy Ghost, and particularly John the Baptist, the Lord said to him, “Then I may live through you the kind of life I lived through him.” A Nazarite clothed in camel’s hair, living in a desert! Even in this, or what might be its modern equivalent, a real decision had to be made. “If I live My life in you, and that is the kind of life I choose, you can’t stop Me,” was the Lord’s word on it. As the Saviour was despised, he must be willing to be the same. By Friday night each point had been faced. He knew exactly what he was offered: the choice between temporal and eternal gain. The Spirit summed the issue up for him: “On no account will I allow you to cherish a single thought of self, and the life I will live in you will be one hundred per cent for others. You will never be able to save yourself, any more than the Saviour could when He was on earth. Now, are you willing?” Rees was to give a final answer. That night a friend said to him, “If some of us come over after the meeting, will you tell us of your position in Christ?” At once the Spirit challenged him: “How can you do that? You have seen the position of the overcomers, but you have not entered in. I have been dealing with you for five days; you must give Me your decision by six o’clock tonight and remember, your will must go. On no account will I allow you to bring in a cross-current. Where I send you, you will go; what I say to you, you will do.” It was the final battle on the will. “I asked Him for more time,” Rees continued, “but He said, ‘You will not have a minute after six o’clock.’ When I heard that it was exactly as if a wild beast was roused in me. ‘You gave me a free will,’ I answered, ‘and now You force me to give it up.’ ‘I do not force you,’ He replied, ‘but for three years have you not been saying that you are not your own, and that you wanted to give your life back to the Saviour as completely as He gave His for you?’ “I climbed down in a second. The way I had said it was an insult to the Trinity. ‘I am sorry,’ I told Him, ‘I didn’t mean what I said.’ ‘You are not forced to give up your will,’ He said again, ‘but at six o’clock I will take your decision. After that you will never get another chance.’ It was my last offer; my last chance! I saw that Throne (Rev. 3:21) and all my future for eternity going. I said, ‘Please forgive me, I want to do it.’ “Once more the question came, ‘Are you willing?’ It was ten minutes to six. I wanted to do it, but I could not. Your mind is keen when you are tested, and in a flash it came to me, ‘How can self be willing to give up self?’ Five to six came. I was afraid of those last five minutes. I could count the ticks of the clock. Then the Spirit spoke again. ‘If you can’t be willing, would you like Me to help you? Are you willing to be made willing?’ “I was transported into another realm . . . There I heard God speaking to me, and I have lived there ever since.” “‘Take care,’ the enemy whispered. ‘When a stronger person than yourself is on the other side, to be willing to be made willing is just the same as to be willing.’ As I was thinking upon that point I looked at the clock. It was one minute to six. I bowed my head and said, ‘Lord, I am willing.’” Within an hour the Third Person of the Godhead had come in. He gave Rees that word in Hebrews 10:19, “Having therefore boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.” “Immediately,” said Rees, “I was transported into another realm, within that sacred veil where the Father, the Saviour and the Holy Ghost live. There I heard God speaking...."

We need to reach this depth of life in the Spirit to survive the coming onslaught, where it will be so much easier to compromise with the norms of the world than withstand the wiles of the Devil.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, strengthen us for the journey ahead and raise up the Sons and Daughters of God to live a life of true consecration before You, and to lead others, many others, into purity, holiness, and virtue. Let us feed Your sheep with proper nourishment that they may grow to Your satisfaction. In Jesus' name.  Amen.