7/09/12 – “WHAT IS GRACE?”

Image

Gal. 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Grace is a very important and powerful subject. It certainly is a very important part of our walk with Christ, and because of that the enemy has used this powerful topic to bring deception into the body of Christ. This is no different than any subject you would look at, there are several aspects to grace that must be considered when studying what grace really is. Whenever you only look at a part of a subject you certainly don’t get the whole picture and therefore can be mislead. It would be like looking out to the horizon and only seeing from the ground view one perspective of the earth, therefore thinking it is flat. But of course a complete view of the planet reveals otherwise.

That is what we are going to do this week in a brief study of grace. It is powerful, wonderful, and also able to empower us to change. It was given to us not only to bring us into right standing with God, but also to empower us to live as children of the light. Today there is much being said about grace, but most of what is being declared is the not the complete picture. Many are only looking at the horizon and not the whole scope of what grace encompasses. So let’s take a little journey through God’s Word and get a better understanding of the grace of God.

We start with our foundation verse I have already shared with you above. One of the key elements that grace is connected with and really is the primary reason we have grace in our life has to do with the work of justification. Justification means to be placed in right standing with God. God’s righteousness is a gift that is given to all those who having godly sorrow, repent, and turn to Jesus trusting their lives unto Him. As Paul states above those who have received Christ as their Savior by making Him the Lord of their life do so by faith in what Christ has done. To then think that one has to go back to upholding the Old Testament law to be justified in the eyes of God has fallen from grace.

This is a key point for there are those who teach today that many are trying to mix the law with grace. To mix the law with grace would mean that you would put your faith initially in Christ for salvation, but then you would continue to fulfill the requirements of the Levitical law to be justified in the sight of God. This is falling from grace for justification only comes through faith in Christ Jesus and what He did. But those who claim that ministers are mixing the law with grace say you are doing so whenever you talk about sin, or about righteous living, which is taught in scripture. The Bible has a lot to say about our lifestyle, but a minister of the whole counsel of God knows you cannot earn this gift of righteousness or right standing with God. That only comes through faith in Christ Jesus.

Be careful when you hear ministers say that for anyone to preach against sin they are mixing the law with grace, for that is not even biblically correct. That would only be true if someone was telling you that you must uphold all the requirements given in the Old Testament law to receive God’s righteousness. The gift of righteousness as I have stated earlier is only received through our faith in Jesus Christ. This of course does not mean that it really doesn’t matter then how we live, for after all we have been saved by grace. The wages of choosing to live a life of sin is still corruption as scripture clearly teaches in the New Testament.

Rom. 6:14 For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
Rom. 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not!

Everyone who is born again by faith in Christ is now under grace, not under the law. This is where most of the confusion seems to come from. People say they are no longer under the law but under grace so it doesn’t matter what they do. Anyone who believes this does not know what the law is nor what grace is. The law was necessary to reveal to man that he is a sinner and therefore in need of a Savior. The law did not give man the power to overcome sin, but revealed the sin within man. Grace means you got what you did not deserve. We did not deserve God’s righteousness because of the sinful nature we were born with, but God chose to give us this gift. This gift was made possible by God’s grace.

Once you receive this gift of righteousness through grace you are now a new creation on the inside. You now have the ability, God-given within you, to defeat sin and for it to no longer have dominion over your life. Grace empowered you to defeat sin, not live sinful. You could only become born again by faith in Christ Jesus, not by the fulfillment of the law, but once you got born again you now have a new spirit and the Holy Spirit within you to overcome sin and all of it’s destructive ways. Grace is heaven’s help extended to us to help us be empowered through the Holy Spirit to be victorious over sin, sickness, disease, and spiritual death.

Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
Eph. 2:9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

It is by grace (heaven’s help) that you have been saved. Man cannot save himself by his own merit. This word saved here refers too much more than just getting born again. The definition of this word means: to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): — heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole. Man cannot save, deliver, protect, heal, or make himself whole through his own works. If he could do so then he would not need God. Our faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished in redeeming our life is what brings us into what Jesus died and paid for. Anyone claiming that you must earn this through some type of religious works does not know the Bible.

Gal. 6:7 Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows,
Gal. 6:8 because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

We in no way earn from God what Jesus died and paid for. Does this mean that we can do whatever our flesh wants because after all since we are saved by grace there is no recourse for fleshly behavior? No. Anyone who looks to the Word of God that tells us what we should and should not do and thinks that doing what you want and not what God said won’t matter is deceived. Paul clearly states above that God will not be made a fool. If you sow to your flesh, letting your flesh dominate how you live and what you do, you are going to reap corruption. God didn’t have anything to do with it, and even though you have received salvation through grace it does not exempt you from this spiritual truth.

But for those who sow to the Spirit, which would be doing what God says to do with our life, is going to reap life, not corruption. Contrary to popular opinion today if you as a born again child of God choose to live a lifestyle of willful sin ignoring what the Bible tells you not to do you are taking the risk of hardening your heart to the point of denying your Christ and choosing to face the eternal judgment to come from which you were once delivered.

Heb. 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
Heb. 10:27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

Some would say that if you preach this then no one can live assured of their salvation. Sure you can. If you are not living a lifestyle of willful sin you know that you have no reason to fear the judgment to come, which will devour the adversaries. But to say that because we are now under grace we can live however we want is not biblically correct. There are even those today, who teach that no one is going to hell, that all will wake up in heaven. This is not what scripture teaches.

Jude 3 Dear friends, although I have been eager to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel compelled instead to write to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Jude 4 For certain men have secretly slipped in among you–men who long ago were marked out for the condemnation I am about to describe–ungodly men who have turned the grace of our God into a license for evil and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jude gave a warning 2,000 years ago to the church that there would be those who would preach grace in such a way that it would give people a license for evil, and in doing so they are denying Jesus as the Master and Lord of their life. If Jesus is your Master and Lord you are completely surrendered to Him. Don’t fall for these modern day preachers who are telling us that if grace is not preached in such a way that it is misunderstood then it isn’t being taught biblically. This is not true. How can one have biblical understanding of what grace is if it is taught in a way that it is misunderstood? I don’t think I need to explain that.

Acts 20:26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

Paul was the predominate teacher of all that grace is in the New Testament. He declared before his departure to Rome that he had not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. Because he had not done so he was innocent of the blood of all men. There are some ministers today who are clearly not declaring the whole counsel of God. They want to be popular and are a fulfillment of what Paul warned Timothy about that in the last days there would be many preachers who would tickle peoples itching ears. Don’t fall for this. Be willing to hear the whole counsel of God, which will protect you and deliver you from this wicked and evil generation. Thank God for His grace, heavens help, that came down to man to make him brand new, and empower him to overcome the evil of the last days.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

“SELF-DECEPTION”

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
James 1:24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

Who do you know that likes being deceived? Who is there that wakes up every morning looking forward to being mislead into error? I have yet to personally meet anyone that wants to intentionally be deceived. Deception is a powerful thing, and it never turns out good in the end. Most Christians only think of deception as a work of satan, but did you know that one could in fact be self deceived in which the devil has no involvement with it? Scripture teaches us this and if you want to avoid self-deception it isn’t that hard.

Let me first of all give the basic definition of deception. It means to be lead away from truth and to therefore be misled into error. It is like the bait that leads an animal into a trap unaware that what they thought was a good thing turned out to be their demise. Most only attribute deception to satan for we know from scripture he has two primary weapons, deception and seduction. When someone is deceived they actually don’t know it and that is the danger of deception.

This week I want to talk about self-deception, what it is and what we can do to avoid it or come out of it. Remember even in self-deception when someone is deceived at the time they don’t realize it. As James states above in verse 22 if someone looks into the Word of God, hears what is says, but does not apply what it says to their life they are deceiving themselves. May sound simple, but deception never leads to a good ending.

God never intended for us to look to His Word and simply read it but never apply it. This would be like reading the directions on how to build something, but then tossing them aside and ignoring what they say choosing to build it your way. The only problem is if you are building something as complex as walking out this life, you are never going to see it completed or working right. The reason the manufacturer gave you the instructions on how to build what you have purchased is because he knows everything about it. He is the source from where it came. To ignore his directions is to think you are smarter then the one from whom it originated.

So it is with our life. God is the originator of life, and the maker of us all. He gave us an instruction manual from which to learn how to build the kind of life His Son has purchased for us. Choosing to ignore the directions means you think you know more than the Creator who gave you life and knows how it works. Doing so you enter into self-deception and therefore don’t even realize what you have done.

Take marriage for example. God is the one who created marriage. It takes two people to make a marriage work, but how many actually take the time to read the instructions on how this works and then choose to apply what God said no matter how you feel about it. For 22 years as a pastor I cannot tell you how many times I have sat with couples in telling them what scripture teaches of how to make their marriage work. Almost every time without fail they agree with what the scriptures say. Agreeing with the Bible is not what keeps you from deception. It is in doing what scripture says that will keep you from being deceived. I can’t tell you how many couples have told me they agree with what the Bible says, but they choose not to do what it says.

I can also tell you it is a beautiful thing to see two people who don’t just agree with the Bible, but actually do what it says and it works. It doesn’t change things overnight in most relationships, but it does work, and then you actually have a marriage, not just someone you are legally joined to.

Hearing the Word and not applying it to your life is like someone James said who looks into a mirror, they see their natural face but then walk away and forget what kind of person they are. This means they see the natural man, which reveals what needs to be changed, but when they walk away they forget what they saw. Therefore, they remain the same old person they have always been, doing the same old things over and over.

James 1:25 But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does.

Who doesn’t want to be blessed in what he does? I can’t find many believers who say, “I don’t want God’s blessings in my life”. But to walk in those blessings you must look or in other words peer into the perfect law of liberty and fix your attention on it, doing what it says. The law of liberty is the ways of God given to us in our relationship with Christ, which do not bring bondage as some profess, but actually bring liberty or freedom. When you tell people what the New Testament says to do they often respond by saying, “Don’t put that bondage on me”. One who is a doer of the Word is not in bondage, but walking in liberty.

Remember when you look to the Word of God and don’t do it you are deceiving yourself. That is why people think when you tell them to forgive, love others as Christ loved us, don’t forsake assembling with your pastor and the body of Christ, give to the work of God, etc., people will say you are trying to put bondage on them. But in fact you are trying to liberate them from the deception and it’s destructive results that come from being deceived. For example not forgiving, choosing to walk out of love, not assembling with your pastor who is a gift from God, choosing to not give to the work of God keeps you from receiving what God has for you. This is a simple but powerful truth, if you want God’s blessing on your life you must be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only.

To do this one must be willing to see some things about their life they may not want to change, but need to change. They are going to have to be more than a casual observer of the Word of God. The term to peer into God’s Word is like first getting a glimpse of something you may see on the ground but you stoop down and take a closer look to make sure of what you are seeing. Remember agreeing with the Bible does not mean you are doing it. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people who will agree with what you show them about their life and how the Word reveals what they can do to change. They will agree with you and say amen, but they walk off and don’t apply what the Word says. They continue to walk in self-deception. So how does one change this? The first question you need to ask yourself is, “What is my heart set on”?

Matt. 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

The first key is we need to know who or what we are serving. To serve means you don’t come with your agenda, you come as a servant and do what the master says. Mammon is more than just money. Mammon is taking anything or anyone and exalting it to the position of being the master of your life over God. This would refer to anything that keeps us therefore from being doers of the Word. If one’s heart is not totally set on God, we will begin to serve other things.

This is one of the primary reasons people don’t have a pastor or attend church. Going to God’s house was God’s plan for us; man did not make it up. Giving to the work of God was His idea, and a way He has made for us to receive blessing in our life, as we are being a blessing. Sure there are churches that are not of God and are not bible-based, but that doesn’t mean they are all that way, nor does it mean God doesn’t have a pastor for your life. There are those who don’t walk in what the Word of God says, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. God would never ask us to do something we couldn’t do.

2 Cor. 13:5 Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected?

In examining our hearts we need to know that we are truly born again and not just a counterfeit. Doing what scripture says again is not bondage, for the believer who knows the Lord it is a great liberty and blessing in their life, not bondage. One who is a false convert and therefore never has had a heart change would obviously not want to do what scripture teaches. The Word is foolishness to them.

Heb. 3:15 But never forget the warning: “Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled.”

Make sure you have not hardened your heart toward God. There are those who say they have not done so, but yet they don’t do what the Word says. They will blame their actions on what others have done to them and doing so is focusing on people, not the Lord. We don’t serve man, we serve Jesus Christ. Paul had a lot of people do a lot of bad things to him but he kept on obeying God and he was victorious in overcoming every obstacle he faced as he himself said that he faced many adversities, but the Lord delivered him out of them all. That is being blessed.

So if you want to live free from a life of being mislead from the truth that brings liberty not bondage, make the choice to keep Jesus on the throne of your life. To do so means He is Lord, supreme in authority over my life. His Word is final authority. What it says I will do, which will bring liberty not bondage. Don’t fall for the deception that doing what God’s Word says is putting you in bondage. That is a lie from the enemy. Get rid of the bumper sticker from your life that says God is your co-pilot. Put Him in the driver seat of your life. Agreeing with His Word is not enough; you must be a doer if you want to be blessed by God.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

6/25/12 – “WHAT IS YOUR FAITH IN?”

Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Gal. 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

I have been preaching a message to our church family on “Walking In Bible Faith”. Too often in my life I can look back and see times where I thought I was walking by faith, but in fact I was not walking in Bible faith. I have also seen this to be true in many believers’ lives as well. One of the most important truths I have learned from my walking with God, studying His Word, and hearing great messages from people like Kenneth E. Hagin is the fact that most Christians only see faith as a way to get things they need. I certainly don’t mean to imply that is not one of the benefits of faith, but I have found in my own experience that when focusing on the need and trying to exercise faith to get that need met it doesn’t work very well.

The reason this is true is because the foundation for which faith was given is so that we are in fact living a life of faith, not just using faith when we need something, and then setting it aside. To live by faith means that every day we are trusting in God and therefore are not living the way those who do not know God do. One who is not born again is not walking by faith in the Son of God, but we should be. As I have learned one of the reasons our faith is not working is because the focus of our faith is in the wrong thing, and therefore we are not really walking by faith. Let me explain further.

If you examine your life as a believer how much of your faith is in the prayer you pray instead of the One you are praying too? How much of your faith is in how many people you have praying for you? How much of your faith is in how many times you confess the Word instead of the One whom the Word actually reveals to us? Another way to say this is a statement that the Holy Spirit gave me just recently as I was preaching on this subject. This is what He gave me as I was sharing from Galatians 2:20 above. Your faith should not be in your Christianity, but in the Christ of your Christianity.

This is what Paul was stating here in Galatians 2:20 when he declared that he had in fact been crucified with Christ, and therefore it was no longer he who lived. In fact he refers to Christ now living in him for Paul also penned a powerful statement in 1 Corinthians 6:17 that when one is joined to the Lord, they become one spirit with Him. That is what Paul is stating here in Galatians when he says that Christ now lives in Him. But then he makes another powerful statement that I believe is often overlooked. The life that Paul was now living in his earthly body he was living by faith in the Son of God. His faith was not in whether he could get enough people praying for him so that he might get a breakthrough. I am not discounting having others pray for you, but again my question is this; is your faith in the prayers of others or the God whom you are praying too?

Paul knew if one’s faith is not in the Son of God then there really is no biblical faith being exercised. Putting our faith in the Son of God is the key and we must have understanding of exactly what that means if we are going to walk in Bible faith. As 2 Corinthians 5:7 states we are to walk by faith not by sight. When we are walking by faith and not by sight our words and actions will be in line with what we believe. Yet how often do we claim we are “believing God” for something and yet our words and actions say something else?

Before we examine further what Paul meant by his faith in the Son of God, let’s take a moment to look back at a key word in verse 20 of our foundation scripture. That key word is “crucified”. When Paul stated that he was crucified with Christ, this is far more than just saying the old man died. His old man (spirit) had died, but this word when defined from the original Greek text is translated as: by the death of Christ upon the cross I have become utterly estranged from (dead to) my former habit of feeling and action. Think about what Paul was actually saying here from the original text. Paul was actually saying through the use of the word for “crucified” here that he had died to the habit of responding based on what he felt.

This is another way to say he was no longer allowing his feelings to dictate how he acted. Instead, his actions were now based on His faith in the Son of God. His belief was in what Christ had done for him, and this is what determined his actions, not his feelings. Just another way to say he was now walking by faith, not by sight. Before being born again all we knew to live by was what we felt. Our five physical senses were the factor that determined how we responded in life. But when you become born again and learn to break that habit where the Son of God is concerned, and based on what He therefore has promised you, then your actions are based on Him and His Word.

Gal. 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

So what does it mean to live by faith in the Son of God? We see here in the next verse right after Paul made that statement something very important that relates to living by faith in the Son of God. To set something aside would be for example to put it out of sight, it is not something you are looking too. Out of sight, out of mind. Paul said he did not do this and then he reveals what he was referring to in connection with the grace of God here. He was referring to “righteousness” which is the foundation of the believer’s faith. When one puts their faith in Jesus Christ and what He did for them, they receive a gift from God, the gift of righteousness. Why is this so important? Because if you understand what this gift has done in your life, you begin to see how faith has no problem in believing what you now have a right to because of God’s righteousness.

Rom. 5:17 For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ!

The gift of righteousness is just that, a gift. A gift is something you cannot earn. This gift is received by putting your faith in the death, resurrection, and accession of Christ. Righteousness means right standing with God. This was all made possible when our old sinful nature died, and we had birthed within us a new spirit. Here in Romans Paul states that if you have received this gift of righteousness then you are to reign in life through what Jesus has done. Think about that. The word reign here means to rule. We are to rule over the things we face in this life, they are not to rule us. If we are ruling in this life that means life’s circumstances don’t control how we act, nor what we say. One who reigns in this life is walking by faith and not by sight.

This is why not setting aside the grace of God in which righteousness comes is so important. Setting this gift aside would mean that we have not taken time to focus on and get understanding of what righteousness is and how that has affected our life. You see it is our lack of understanding of this right standing with God that hinders our ability to exercise our faith in what we as children of God have a right to, all because of what Jesus did, not what we have or haven’t done. When you faith is in the Christ of your Christianity you are basing what you say and do on what He has done. When we start basing our faith on our own works, we are not going to walk in Bible faith.

Does that mean it doesn’t matter how I live or what I do? In today’s times you have to address this issue when you talk about trusting only in what Christ has done for you, and not your own works. This does not mean that scripture does not teach us as believers about living a life of good works, which refers to a lifestyle that brings glory to our God. Galatians 6:7-8 clearly teaches us that we will reap what we sow. If we sow to our flesh we will reap corruption. If we sow to the Spirit, we will reap life. Walking by faith and not by sight is putting our full trust in the works Christ did, but it does not mean that we can live in blatant willful sin and not suffer the consequences of doing so. One who truly begins to walk by faith sees things through the eye of faith and therefore does not desire to live in sin.

2 Cor. 4:18 Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.
2 Cor. 5:7 For we walk by faith [we a regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.

Walking by faith does not mean you don’t see, it means you see beyond what is in the natural, and with the eye of faith you see what the Word says is already so. When you live by faith what is seen in the natural cannot hold your attention nor bring you down. It is not what you focus on. There is no worry, fear, doubt, nor unbelief, just an absolute knowing that what Christ has done for us is done, period. Seeing with the eye of faith does not see things as maybe one day if I keep believing it will be so, for in the eyes of God and the believer who walks by faith it is finished.

As I stated earlier this all comes back to fully understanding who you now are in Christ because He has made you right with God. If for example you were from a wealthy family but grew up in another home not knowing your real name nor knowing you were from such a family, you could not receive what you have a right to by birthright. So it is as a child of God, you must get revelation in your heart as to who you now are in Christ. You can do so my looking at every verse in the New Testament that refers who you now are in Christ Jesus. There are many such verses in the Bible such as our foundation verse Galatians 2:20. Feed on these verses until they become a reality to you and you will begin to walk in your rights as a child of God as you learn to put faith in the Christ of your Christianity.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker

6/18/12 – “THE #1 REASON JESUS GAVE YOU A SHEPHERD”

ImageJer. 3:15 And I will give you [spiritual] shepherds after My own heart [in the final time], who will feed you with knowledge and understanding and judgment. AMP

There are a lot of misconceptions amongst God’s people as to the role of the pastor or shepherd the Lord has given to bless your life, and in this weeks article I want to show from scripture the primary reason Jesus gave us the gift of a pastor as a part of the five-fold ministry gifts to grow us up. Among some of the misconceptions are those who believe they don’t need a pastor. I will address this in a moment but scripture is clear that this is one of the gifts that Jesus gave to the body of Christ. To say I don’t need a pastor is to reject a gift that Jesus gave to you as a blessing for your life.

Among all the misconceptions about pastor’s everything from not needing one, to thinking my pastor should come take personal care of me every week, scripture reveals a clear picture of what God intended for a pastor to be. Any pastor called by God has no problem going to help his people when called upon, but let’s focus on his primary role in our life according to scripture.

We start with this prophecy that was given by Jeremiah which we see here was for the final time or the last days, which we are now living in according to scripture. Here God reveals through this prophet that He would give us shepherds after His own heart, who will feed us with knowledge and understanding and judgment. There you have the primary calling of the pastor to his flock. This is significant and the primary focus of our study as you will see.

If God said through Jeremiah that He would give us shepherds after His own heart then we know He has done so, for God always fulfills His Word. The reason He says “shepherds” here is not because He wants us to have many shepherds in our life as we will see later also, but because some will say that Jesus is their shepherd and they don’t need a pastor. Jesus is the good shepherd and no shepherd given by God is trying to take His place, but is working to lead God’s people into a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Why would God speak forth this prophecy if He wasn’t going to fulfill it and if He did not intend for us to have a pastor? Obviously He has fulfilled this word and He does therefore have a pastor for our life.

Now here is what I want you to see about this prophecy. Those shepherds whom God has given to the body of Christ are going to feed the flock with knowledge, understanding, and judgment. That means God is going to reveal to these shepherds what He (God) wants to speak into our life that is going to help us. God is going to use these shepherds to feed His sheep with His Word so they can have knowledge of God and who they are in Christ. These shepherds are going to bring understanding to His sheep so that they can live out what God says works and avoid what does not work. They are also going to reveal how to have sound judgment in knowing the truth from the deceptive and seductive ways of the devil, as well as knowledge of God’s judgment to come. You may be saying you know all this already, so let me look at it another way.

God who knows all things knows what you need to hear that will help you walk in what He has planned for your life. Not to mention He also knows what you need to hear to fix the problems you are dealing with, as well as knowing what you need to hear to avoid problems ahead. What is one of the main avenues by which God in His Word has said He will reveal these things to you? Through the shepherd that He, not man, has gifted and ordain to speak into your life. So if God has a shepherd who He gifted and called to help me who prays, hears from God, and then prepares a message that God gave Him to share with me, what if I am rarely there to hear it?

For example, if you knew that Jesus was going to show up at your church this coming week at your mid-week service, and your Sunday morning and evening service to speak to you, would you be too busy doing other things to come and hear Him? Now if God gave you a shepherd through Jesus Christ as we are about to see, to hear from Him what He knows you need to hear, why would that be any different? Either God’s Word in Jeremiah is true or it is not true. If it is true and of course it is, then God does know what you need to hear and He is trying to share with you knowledge, understanding, and judgment that is coming from Him.

For the sake of not getting off another direction here I am fully aware there are pastor’s whom God did not call nor ordain (anoint) to speak to His body and the New Testament warns us that we are to beware for there would be many such false preachers in these last days. But this does not take away from the fact that there are also shepherds that He has given as a gift to bless our life. Just as there are true worshippers and false worshippers in the body of Christ, there are true shepherds and false shepherds. But for us to then say we don’t even want to find the true shepherd God has for us would mean we don’t want one of the greatest gifts He has given to us His sheep.

The reason I share this is because I cannot tell you how many times in 22 years as a pastor that I have heard from God, stepped into the pulpit after hours of study and praying ready to share with God’s sheep what I know He has given me from Him found directly in His Word; and people in my church that I know who needed to hear that message as it dealt directly with what they are facing and would help to bring resolve to what they are dealing with are not there to hear it. It breaks my heart every time it happens. Many times I would then get a phone call from someone in my church wondering why they are having the problems they have and the very thing they want answers for were in that message.

I am fully aware that we are going to miss church services at times. If we get into bondage of thinking “I have to be in church” we are going for the wrong reasons to begin with. If we love the Lord more than the things of this life then going to His house, which He designed in the New Testament for us to be a part of, is a joy not a bondage. Some would say it doesn’t matter if I hear it then or later, I would rather sleep in, lay around on the couch, or just choose not to go to church. If they are connected to the shepherd Jesus gave to them as a gift for their life, then they are saying what God wants to say to me is not as important as what I want to do.

If you lived in Jesus’ day which do you think would have had more impact on your life? Hearing Jesus preach directly to you, or having to listen to someone tell you later what He said? Even after He ascended to heaven do you think hearing Paul preach under the anointing would have more of an impact on your life rather than hearing someone else tell you what he said days later? Unfortunately I don’t think some in the body of Christ understand this nor do they see their shepherd as the oracle of God, gifted by Him to speak into their life. This in no way means you cannot hear God directly for we can, but one of the primary ways God gave us to hear from Him is through our shepherd. If not then Jeremiah’s prophecy is not needed.

Eph. 4:8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men
Eph. 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
Eph. 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, …

Here we see in the New Testament a fulfillment of what Jeremiah prophesied about shepherds. Jesus when He ascended into heaven gave to the body His gifts. They are the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. Out of these the pastor is obviously the shepherd whom God has chosen to use in giving us the knowledge, understanding, and judgment we need. The Word for pastor here in verse 11 is defined in the Greek language as “shepherd”. God always fulfills His Word.

There are those who are called to children’s ministry or youth ministry who may once a week be in those areas of ministry fulfilling their calling. For example in our church we have three services a week. We do not have a policy that if you are called to children’s ministry that is all you do and you never attend the main service. You serve once a week and have two other services you can attend. There are occasions they may serve more when someone is out temporarily, but they will not have a permanent position in kid’s church every service. If that is where one is called, I know God knows this is your place in the body and He will still use the Word being taught in those areas to bless your life as well.

My challenge from God’s Word this week is to the whole body of Christ. First, if you are someone who makes excuses as to why you do not go to church, you would rather do other things, I would be asking myself why would I not want to receive from God what He has to share with me and bless my life? God has a shepherd for your life or otherwise Jeremiah’s prophecy and Ephesians 4 are not a part of God’s Word. My other challenge to those who attend church is are you connected with the shepherd God has for your life? If you take time to study out John 10:1-14 you will find out that Jesus told us you will know the shepherd He has for you when you hear his voice. I also have a mini-teaching on this that you can listen to on our YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7I0n9c3W7A.

1 Th. 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

Last but not least if you have found your shepherd and go to church regularly do you go with the understanding that God is going to speak to me today? You need to know that the word your pastor shares is not the word of men, but the word of God. When we walk in the light of these powerful truths, God is going to be able to help us in our growth spiritually, and therefore in being the victorious church He bought and paid for.

See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”

May God’s Best Be Yours!

Pastor Darryl Baker