The Spirit and the Shepherds say…

Spirit Shepherds

Sunday 12/15/19

Series: Walking the Talk

Message – The Spirit and the Shepherds say…

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The Spirit & the Shepherds say…

We’ve been talking about Sheep and their Shepherds for nearly a month now.

I’ve supplied you with two extremes of New Testament churches in order to impress upon you the well established truth that all churches need pastors and all healthy sheep thrive in and because being part of the larger community of a healthy church.

The first church I mentioned was the very healthy Philippian church.

The second was the increasingly unhealthy Ephesian church (which we have been looking at indirectly from the letter written to Timothy while he was ministering there on Paul’s behalf).

But the this which was of particular importance was that even in the well established church of loving and mature Christians at Philippi, Paul was concerned that there was no one there who could watch over them and care for them. The passage I am referencing is found in chapter 2 verse 19-21,

“(19) But, if the Lord permits it, I hope before long to send Timothy to you, that I, in turn, may be cheered by getting news of you.  (20) For I have no one likeminded with him, who will cherish a genuine care for you. (21) Everybody concerns himself about his own interests, not about those of Jesus Christ.”

The words who will cherish a genuine care for you if translated more bluntly would simply say, to be anxious beforehand. Meaning, to see concerning things on the horizon and address them before they become snares – doctrinal or otherwise.

—–

Then we proceeded to chapter 4 in which we have already covered the warning of the Holy Spirit for our days and the need for a clear conscience.

 “1  Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2  through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

In the opening lines of Paul’s letter to Timothy was the command to only allow true Christian doctrine be taught so that:

  • Love from the heart
  • a clear conscience and 
  • non-hypocritical faith 

It was Paul’s intention to establish these both, in the fold AND it’s Pastors. 

This led to me to wrapping up our last session with an emphasis on having and maintaining a clear conscience. 

Paul has quite a bit to say about the necessity and virtues of having a clear conscience.

  • Rom. 9:1; 2Cor. 1:12 – It helps us bear Witness to the truthfulness of Our Testimony.
  • Rom. 13:5 – It is due to our Christian need for a clear conscience that we do things we might otherwise seek an excuse to avoid like taxes or giving the proper respect to government officials regardless of their policies puppy clothes their Authority it’s given to them by God- 

NOTE: Here a question was asked about the current impeachment allegations levied against the President. To which I answered the question and referenced the U.S. Constitution concerning offenses which are impeachable. Below is lifted from that precise location in the Constitution…

U.S. Constitution

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Article 2, Section 4

  • 1Cor. 8:7,12 – We are to bear with the weak consciences of our brothers and sisters and limit our freedoms with a view to not damaging their conscience because if we do we send against Christ.
  • 2Tim. 1:3; Heb. 9:14 – It frees free heart to serve God.
  • Heb. 10:22 – It enables us to draw fast to God.
  • Heb. 13:18 – It is connected with living honorably.

Now, as we continue in Chapter 4 and move on to Chapter 5 I want you to pay particular note to how personal and “all up in your grill” as might be said today, these instructions are in the next two chapters. 

They involve what we eat, doctrines of marriage, how to regard and care for widows, who qualifies as a widow, how you should regard & support your spiritual leaders and the need to publicly reprimand them if such is truly warranted. 

No one in the body is independent of the other members, nor is any member free from the influence and authority of its members. This serves to illustrate how enter-connected the body is and how directly connected it is with it said Jesus Christ which is intended to not only be revealed is the truth but also to instill godly fear and everyone for not even Church leaders are beyond the scope of being judged and represented even by the sheep. We are truly members of one another.

“(3) They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth.  (4) For everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,  (5) since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.

… 6  If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed…”

A word here. Find it interesting that the words the Holy Spirit chose to use concerning foods that are good d not to be rejected are those created by God. Not those modified by man. 

We’ve done much in this generation 2 pollute and poison our food supply from pouring deadly synthetic pesticides on them, 2 growing them in depleted soil augmented by synthetic in chemical-based fertilizers which have deadly by products poisoning our soils and our food supply 2 actually genetically modifying the food itself so that they can withstand even greater amounts of chemicals that we dumped on it to protect it from predators which have adapted to our previous chemicals.

All of these things we’ve done in order to grasp for control over things men used to only be able to pray to God to give them. Such as adequate weather rich soil and protection from predators and the elements. Everytime man grass for control over things which belong to God and his sovereignty we poison Our Lives and create problems which are far greater than the ones we were trying to avoid. If you remember under the old Covenant the promise God gave to Israel was that he would bless them and cause them to be fruitful if they would hear and obey his words but if they did not then eventually the land would withhold its fruit and would in some cases literally vomit them out of the land. Those words make it absolutely clear got the power to cause crops the produce and keep plagues at Bay are in the hands of God. That is not to say that God will stop man from trying to protect himself but as we have said many times in here you cannot lie against the truth. If the truth is that these things belong to God then taking that power into your own hands will only cause death.

So what are we to do? Well I don’t believe that answer is absolutely the same for everyone for the same reasons that we brought a conscience earlier. Some people have not yet been convicted of this and since that is the truth they cannot be held accountable for it. That is not to say it will not have an impact on their health. But I believe a general rule of thumb would be to purchase as many items as you can which are free from pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and certainly from Foods genetically modified. The truth is we are still in our infancy and understanding anything about the genetic codes. Those codes were program specifically by Jesus our creator and when we go muddling around buy rewiring the genetics nothing good can come from it. I once read from a scientist who was addressing how impossible it was that random mutations could cause a lower life-form to advance into a higher life-form by saying that it was just as impossible  and silly as it would be to expect that by opening a TV and randomly scrambling the wires is unlikely to produce the clear picture.

Where ever our consciences are in regard to the food we eat we HAVE to be careful to approach all food with a heart of gratitude, offering Thanks to God for what we have and TRUST that He blesses it and sets it apart for our good by His Words and our prayers.

“13  Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching. 14  Do not neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. (I mentioned two weeks ago the prophecies spoken over Timothy were with in the context of the church and quite possibly some came through the elders of the local church where Timothy belonged as a young man.) 15  Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 16  Be conscientious about yourself and your teaching; (Acts 20) persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!