“Sneaking out of the sheep-pen”

“Verily I say unto you, He that entereth in not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

But he that entereth in by the sheep door IS the shepherd of the sheep.

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice.

And a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood NOT what things they were which he spake unto them.

Then said Jesus unto them againVerily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 

ALL that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in,  he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

The thief cometh not, by for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:1-10

When you think about these verses, they not only apply to trying to get into the kingdom “the wrong way” but they also apply to the things that come in and try to lead us astray. 

All the little things, or sometimes pretty big things that act just as those little foxes that destroy the vine, as mentioned in the book of Solomon.

And as worded to perfection in Proverbs 14:12,13: “There IS a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the END thereof ARE the ways of death. 

Even in laughter the heart IS sorrowful;  and the END of the mirth (amusement) IS heaviness (grief).”

During our struggles and during dark times while we are waiting to hear that voice calling us to a greener, better place it can be easy to be lulled and tempted into listening to and potentially fatally following those that “climb up” offering a quick secret exit from the sheep pen that we are just itching to escape from especially when they feel they maybe they have been forgotten by the shepherd and they just know that the grass is greener on the outside.

As Proverbs tells us, that “escape”can seem right, that “escape” can seem inviting, exciting, and even joyful but the END will be death and even in the laughter and in times of what the world may call “living it up”, the heart will be full of sorrow, having ran too far away to hear the voice of the shepherd (who IS still calling), sorrow of having left the flock to dwell with strangers, notice the mirth, meaning amusement, sheep running amok in search of amusement and preoccupation suddenly finding themselves no longer amused but filled with the sorrow of death, longing for their Shepherd and a pasture that they have forgotten their way back to.

Doesn’t sound quite worth it, does it?

So what do you do while you are waiting, waiting for the Shepherd to come through the door and lead you to a better place, greener pasture, clearer streams?

Take a thought from James.

James 1:-4: ” My brethren,count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (many trials) KNOWING  THIS that the trying (testing) of your faith worketh (produces) patience. 

But LET patience have her perfect work, that when ye may be perfect and entire (complete) wanting (lacking) nothing.”

Ever think about that abundant life? Does it mean abundance of riches, abundance of friends, abundance in the fulfillment of all your hopes and dreams?

Or could it maybe apply a little more to things we don’t often equate with the word abundance?

That testing, that waiting in patience will have the perfection in your life, in your faith, and in your trust and relationship with God.

You will have an abundance of that patience which will produce an abundance of peace, peace that only comes from knowing the Shepherd is never going to be that far away and knowing that your joy, when it comes, will be real joy, heart and soul.

And an abundance of faith that he will always lead us to better pastures, maybe not as fast as we’d like but when we allow patience to work we will have all we could ever need, and all that we could ever desire in the abundance of the spiritual things.

Be patient in whatever you may be going through, don’t assume the grass will greener and try to “sneak out” of your sheep pen.

Don’t let anything else “sneak in” and try to lead you out because only one can lead you the right way and he knows the beautiful plans that he has for you.

Have a beautiful week! 

Φλογιζω NB 2018

 

Watching your two-step……

“Enter ye in at the strait (narrow) gate: for WIDE IS THE GATE, AND BROAD IS THE WAY THAT LEADETH TO DESTRUCTION, and many there be which go in thereat (through it): Because strait is the gate, and narrow (difficult or confined) is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” MATTHEW 7:13,14 

 The spiritual dance of stepping into the will of God and His call upon the life of every believer. The true test in this is trying to always move two steps forward while being careful to not slide the three steps back. During times of testing, crisis, and uncertainty we can quickly give up on trying to learn the new step and be easily swayed into sashaying back to that same old waltz with the world that we have grown accustomed to. We are creatures of habit and sometimes slow learners.

 But we never dance alone and often we don’t realize that there are others who watch us and our moves, and sometimes our faulty footwork can not only harm them, it can ultimately destroy them.

Pressure from the world, Pressure from the enemy (constantly reminding us that we may fail) and the most dreadful one, pressure from our self. Pressure that tells us we must get this right, that we have one shot and it is over. This “performance” pressure does not come from the Lord. HE IS merciful and HE IS patient, even if we are quite challenged with the tempo and have two left feet. 

 I want to give a few examples of why it is imperative to wait on the Lord, go forward but be careful to not let our flesh and need to excel “outrun” Him and His desires to teach us those steps himself. Because if we do, we will run head on into disobedience and that carries a hefty price that no one can afford.

Lesson #1 TRUST NO OTHER INSTRUCTOR:  

1 KINGS 13 tells, what to me is one of the scariest stories in the entire book, and of course, I’ll have to highlight, but if you have a moment please read it. God had called forth a Prophet, who is just referred to as “The man of God”  He had sent him by His word and with signs to “cry” against a pagan altar at Bethel. After Jeroboam had asked him to pray to the Lord on his behalf he invited him to dinner, and that is where we will pick it up:

1 KINGS 13:7-9: “And the King said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward. And the man of God said unto the King, if thou wilt give me half thine house, I WILL NOT go I with thee, NEITHER will I eat bread nor drink water IN THIS PLACE; FOR so WAS IT CHARGED ME (COMMANDED TO ME) BY THE WORD OF THE LORD, SAYING, EAT NO BREAD, NOR DRINK WATER, NOR TURN AGAIN BY THE SAME WAY THAT THOU CAMEST.”

So the story goes on and the man did as he had been commanded and went another way. Meanwhile, there dwelt “an old Prophet” whose sons had came and relayed the entire story to him. The old man asked the sons which direction the prophet travelled in and pursued after him.

Now, this is what I really want to point out in this story: verses 14-17: “And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under and oak { not going forward}: and said unto him, Art thou (are you) the man of God that camest from Bethel? { if he were legit he should have KNOWN} and he said, I am. Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.

And he said, I MAY NOT RETURN WITH THEE, NOR GO IN WITH THEE; NEITHER WILL I EAT BREAD NOR DRINK WATER WITH THEE IN THIS PLACE: for it was said to me BY THE WORD OF THE LORD, THOU SHALT EAT NO BREAD NOR DRINK WATER THERE, NOR TURN AGAIN TO GO BY THE WAT THOU CAMEST { NO GOING BACKWARD}.

Now for the deception, the “old” prophet speaking, verse 18-26:” He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an ANGEL spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water: BUT HE LIED UNTO HIM.”  

So  he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water. And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord  came unto the prophet that brought him back:  And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, THUS SAYETH THE LORD, FORASMUCH AS THOU HAST DISOBEYED THE MOUTH OF THE LORD, AND HAST NOT KEPT THE COMMANDEMENT WHICH THE LORD GOD COMMANDED THEE. But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase  shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers ( your corpse will not come to the tomb).

And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, (so you will know) for the prophet whom he had brought back. And when he was gone, A LION MET HIM BY THE WAY (ON THE ROAD), AND SLEW (KILLED) HIM, AND HIS CARCASE WAS CAST IN THE WAY, AND THE ASS STOOD BY IT, THE LION ALSO STOOD BY THE CARCASE.    

AND behold men passed by, and saw the carcase cast (laying) in the way, and the Lion standing by the carcase: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt (lived). And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It IS THE MAN OF GOD, WHO WAS DISOBEDIENT UNTO THE WORD OF THE LORD: therefore the Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake unto him.”

#2 DANCING A LITTLE TOO FAST….

JUDGES 11:29-31: ” Then the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.

And Jephthah VOWED A VOW unto the lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, THEN IT SHALL BE THAT WHATSOEVER COMETH FORTH OF THE DOORS OF MY HOUSE TO MEET ME WHEN I RETURN IN PEACE FROM THE CHILDREN OF AMMON, SHALL SURELY BE THE LORD’S, AND I WILL OFFER IT UP FOR A BURNT OFFERING.”

As our story continues he has an awesome victory but as we pick it up with verses 34,35 we will see that his OWN words ensnared him to a terrible price:

” And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and behold, HIS DAUGHTER came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: she was his ONLY child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent (tore) his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter!  Thou hast brought me very low, and art one of them that trouble me: FOR I HAVE OPENED MY MOUTH (GIVEN MY WORD) UNTO THE LORD, AND I CANNOT GO BACK. (go back on it).”        

Now, by that scripture, God WAS already with him and God did not ask him to make this vow. But sometimes people can fall into the trap of questioning their relationship with God and feel that they must “bargain” with him to gain victory. God only asks that we trust him to lead us and guide us. He NEVER asks for us to bargain anything with him for his goodness toward us. The Bible states God “maketh rich and addeth no sorrow with it” of course that means fruitful in many things and he does not hurt us in doing so.

#3 NEVER TRY TO OUTDANCE THE MASTER:

Saul, Saul, Saul, an endless volume of books could be written dealing with King Saul. One of whom, yet again, Israel was warned about. They wanted a King because everyone else had a king, God was like, I AM your King and they were like no, we want a king like they have. So even after being warned by Samuel the prophet about just how bad this guy was gonna be, they still wanted him, he was tall, striking and looked like a king to them, what if had a few undesirable personality traits?

So we know that he was a bad king and very disobedient to God in always doing it his way and doing his own thing and so the time comes when God had commanded that all who practiced witchcraft be destroyed out of the land and of course, Saul being Saul did not live up to this command. God grew tired of all of it and took his spirit away from Saul and had David anointed as his successor. As Saul’s sanity vanished farther and farther away as he was filled with hatred and jealousy, he would commit one final act that would also hurt those who were innocent and cost the lives of his sons.

  1 SAMUEL 28, to break it down, the Lord was no longer with Saul and Samuel had died, so instead of accepting his state, Saul full of self will took one more shot at trying to out maneuver the master, with yet again more disobedience.

1 SAMUEL 28:7 ” Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit (psychic, medium) that I may go and enquire of her. And his servants said unto him, Behold there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.”

So here he is, disguising himself, as if he can really sneak this one by an all seeing God, and he goes to this witch, who points out that KING SAUL has called for the death of them all, and realizes that he IS Saul. He reassures that no harm will come to her, but little does he know the harm that is coming to him and his entire house. He calls for Samuel, God ALLOWS one final message: verse 16-19 :

Then said Samuel, WHEREFORE THEN DOST THOU (WHY DO YOU) ASK OF ME, SEEING THE LORD IS DEPARTED FROM THEE, AND IS BECOME THINE ENEMY? 

Because thou OBEYEDST NOT the voice of the Lord, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the Lord done this thing unto thee this day.

MOREVER the Lord will deliver Israel  with thee INTO THE hand of the Philistines:  and TO MORROW SHALT THOU AND THY SONS BE WITH ME { Saul and his sons would be dead by the next day}…..”

1 SAMUEL 11  recounts the battle, verse 6: “ So Saul DIED, and HIS THREE SONS, and HIS ARMOURBEARER, and ALL HIS MEN, THAT SAME DAY TOGETHER.”

All of this tells us some simple truths that we need to always keep hold of, God is faithful. God calls us, and you do not have to beg Him your job. He equips us as we need equipping, with whatever we need to do our work for the Kingdom and to follow Him and do His will we need only to TRUST. He opens doors in HIS TIME and when he opens them no one can shut those doors.

So be patient and walk as He has called you and wait on those answers, don’t be tempted to run ahead or go sliding back, you will miss the entire dance and all the wonderful moves he wants to teach you! 

PROVERBS 3: 5, 6: “ TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL THINE HEART: AND LEAN NOT UNTO THINE OWN UNDERSTANDING. IN ALL THY WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, AND HE SHALL DIRECT THY PATHS.”

Φλογίζω Εαλπιζω NB 2016