A Shepherd's Heart

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Has The Church Turned Things “Upside Down?”
by GBC Ministry


Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? (Isaiah 29:13-16)
            Christians speak much of “the lordship of Christ” over their lives. Yet it seems to me that a growing number (if not the majority) of God’s children today live their life according to the precepts of their own mind (or those taught to them by men) according to their own will. These seem to have divided their life into two parts. In one part, that which has to do with the “moral” issues of life, they believe (and rightly so) that God has a very specific will and, therefore, attempt in all sincerity to comply with that divine will. In the other part, however, the part which has to do with the “non-moral” issues of life, i.e., the practical day-to-day decisions involved with living as pilgrims on this earth, they do not believe the Lord has a specific will. Consequently, as these issues arise, they dutifully “pray” about the matter, then proceed to do what seems right in their own eyes.
It seems the professing church today (and, unfortunately, a large portion of the real church) is promoting (knowingly or unknowingly) the belief that God is only partially sovereign, that He rules with absolute authority in certain ways, at certain times, and over certain aspects of the believer’s  life, but in all other things the believer is “in control,” empowered by God’s grace to do whatever seems right to him or her. The fact that this “flies in the face” of the whole of Scripture which has been written “for our learning” (Romans 15:4) does not seem to be of much concern.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.
(Proverbs 21:2)
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
(Proverbs 14:12; 16:25)
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
(Proverbs 28:26)
            Encouraging this self dependence, this “leaning on the arm of the flesh,” are the many erroneous and harmful doctrines that are being promoted in the apostate portion of the professing church which exalt self esteem and self-directed living. These false teachings are very attractive to the flesh. They “sell” well and, consequently, are being used by the many religious harlots of these times who are making merchandise of God’s people. These false teachers fill their own pockets with astounding riches by catering to the carnal lusts of man through the seductive, false gospel of “gain is godliness” with all of its attendant books, conferences, merchandise, etc. This should not surprise us. We have been warned of this in God’s holy Word.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (2 Timothy 3:1-2)
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2 Peter 2:3)
            In contradiction to this false gospel of self love and exaltation of temporal and material gain, the gospel of the Lord has a different focus altogether. The call it gives to His true children is simple and to-the-point. It leaves no room for human rationalization as to what the Lord requires to be His disciple.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. (Luke 9:23-24)
            The believer is not to “control” any part of his life. He is a “purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:14) who is to live wholly, fully and self-sacrificially (Romans 12:1-2) for the glory of His Redeemer and God. He is a sheep, once lost, now found, who is to submit to the leading and provision of his divine Savior-Shepherd. He is a soldier in an intense spiritual battle who is to “come and go” only at the command of his heavenly Captain. He is an ambassador in a foreign land who is to seek and follow the counsel and direction of his omniscient and sovereign King.
Too many believers today don’t seem to understand this. They seem to think that the “big picture” is in the Lord’s hands (which it is), but that the “small things,” i.e., the day-to-day things of this temporal world that aren’t addressed very specifically in the Word is in their hands (though I don’t know of anything that the truth of God’s Word doesn't address). However, the Word teaches otherwise. The following verses provide valuable perspective.
A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD. (Proverbs 16:33)
          You see, the Lord rules over all things, from the “big” to the very “small.” Man may, in fact, devise a plan, a “big picture” for his life, but it is the Lord who provides the specific “steps” that will bring the plan into conformity with His will according to His purpose for His glory. The “lot,” i.e., the facts and circumstances, the basis for making a decision, are all in the realm of the individual’s understanding, i.e., placed into his “lap.” However, how they are to be used to accomplish the Lord’s will and bring glory to His name is known only by Omniscience.
And while every true Christian knows that he is to pray about “all things” (Phil. 4:6), simply “praying” about our decisions and choices is not enough. Our prayers must be acceptable to God (Isa. 59:1-2; James 4:3), i.e., according to His will. It should be self-evident, then, that a God-pleasing life requires His personal guidance in all things “for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26b-27).
So, while it is certainly true that the Lord has a general, i.e., a “moral,” will for all of His children that He has plainly and fully revealed in His Word which is to be both understood and obeyed (Ephesians 5:17), it is equally true that the Lord has an individual will for every one of His children that is specific to their own life. This aspect of His perfect will is simply an extension of His general revealed will which provides the seeking and submissive believer the necessary insight into and direction for the individual “steps” and “thoughts” required for him to fulfill his heavenly calling to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.
(Proverbs 16:2-3)
A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment [i.e., practical understanding] as the noonday. (Psalms 37:5-6)
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
(Psalms 37:23)
            No aspect of the believer’s life is unimportant to his Lord. Nothing is to be left outside the authority and rule of His lordship. Ezra understood this perfectly when he "proclaimed a fast there, ...to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance" (Ezra 8:21).
             We need to constantly be reminded of what salvation accomplished for us, and what it means to be “in Christ.”
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
            Could it be put more simply? The life we live is Christ’s life. It should be obvious, then, that He has a will for how it is lived…how everything in it is to be accomplished. Remember, we believers were chosen by God before the foundation of the earth for one purpose: to be vessels dedicated to His honor, saints whose lives would produce “the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6).
Fellow believer, we have not been saved to serve our own self interests, but God’s. We are not to walk according to our own understanding, but according to His, and we can only do this with His perfect and directive guidance, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [His] ways higher than [our] ways, and [His] thoughts than [our] thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
We are by His grace “the sons of God” (1 John 3:1), and “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). Let us walk according to our high calling and prove “what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10) in every circumstance before moving ahead.
Let your Shepherd lead you. Allow your Captain to direct you. Submit fully to your Lord’s rule in your life. In so doing, you will both honor your “Father who art in heaven,” and bring glory to His name.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
Psalm 119:105, 130, 133


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