Friday, April 9, 2010

Wilderness Survival for Christians - Part Four

Joseph Herrin (04-09-2010)












Expectations

I have learned much from my own wilderness walk. I desire to share these things that I might lessen some of the agony that comes to people when they do not understand what is happening to them. Oftentimes perplexity can lead people to despair for they may believe they have somehow gotten out of God’s will and are on their own. To think such a thing will rob the saint of peace and make it very difficult to continue on their way.

I have shared that in 1999 the Father brought me to a place of surrender to follow Him wherever He would lead. This was actually my moment of counting the cost of being a disciple of Christ and accepting it. I was immediately led into a wilderness walk. The narrow gate opened before me and the afflicted path to life greeted me.

The Father instructed me to quit my job as a computer professional and to begin a ministry of writing. He said He would supply all of our needs. My way was made very difficult because I had false expectations of what that would mean. Yahshua has promised all His people that if they seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, His Father will supply all our needs (Matthew 6:33).

The immediate context of this passage in Matthew finds the Lord speaking of the birds of the air being fed daily by the Father, and the lilies of the field being clothed in raiment. These are the necessities of life, food and covering. The apostle Paul echoed this sentiment to Timothy, declaring that with these things we should be content.

I Timothy 6:7-8
For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

When the Father led me through the narrow gate in 1999, I found that it was so narrow that I could not carry all of my worldly possessions with me. I have written elsewhere about the meaning of Christ’s words concerning a camel going through the eye of a needle, but I believe it is appropriate to share it again here.

Matthew 19:23-24
"Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Many have misunderstood the message of Christ in these words, for they have mistakenly equated “the eye of a needle” with a sewing needle. Camels do not go through the eye of a sewing needle, so this makes little sense. In the days of Christ cities were surrounded by walls for protection against invading enemies. Gates were set in the walls to allow people and materials to come and go. These gates were closed at night and in times of danger, but it was still necessary to allow a limited flow of people in and out. Therefore, built into the large gates was a small door which could be opened to let a man in or out. This small door was called “the eye of the needle.”





















Camels at the time were used for transport of goods. They would be piled high with merchandise and goods to be traded. If a man came to the gates after they had been closed and needed to enter, it was possible to go through and take his camel along, but it was very difficult. The master of the camel would have to take all the merchandise off of the camel, and the camel would have to go through the gate on his knees.

This is a picture of how a rich man must enter the kingdom of heaven. Getting on one’s knees speaks of humility, and removing all the goods from the camel’s back speaks of the necessity of Christians being unburdened from their possessions.

Matthew 19:21-22
Yahshua said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.

The word rendered as “perfect” in this Scripture is the Greek word teleios. This Greek word means “perfect, mature, of full age.” What Yahshua was telling this rich young ruler of the Jews is that if he wanted to come to maturity as a son of God, then he needed to free himself from his possessions which were making his life very comfortable and easy. He would then be free to follow Christ. Christ would lead this young man down an afflicted path, but it would lead to spiritual maturity. Holding onto his possessions, and clinging to his comfortable lifestyle, would hinder this man from coming to a perfect conformity to the image of Christ.

Most Christians think that the Lord’s words to this young ruler were exceptional. They have been convinced by preachers of prosperity that this young man had an inordinate affection for the world’s goods and therefore he was required to give them up. They are told that this example does not apply to them. What the saints have not understood is that the Lord is revealing a very general principle through these words, a principle with application to all of the lives of Yahweh’s sons and daughters. A life of material ease and comfort will hinder all men from coming to maturity in Christ. “The way is afflicted” which leads to life. Comfort and affliction are opposites. We cannot choose to live comfortable lives and expect to find the life of Christ revealed in us at the end of our journey. It will not happen.

I did not understand this in 1999. According to the Biblical definition of wealth, I was wealthy. So too are many who are reading this. Paul contrasts the person who is content with food and covering with the one who desires to get rich. This then must be our standard to understand what an inordinate desire for material things is. If we cannot be content with food and covering, but must have many other material things, then we are those who desire to be rich, and we risk falling into a snare and many hurtful desires.

Now, I am not saying that a Christian cannot have more than their daily bread and the clothes on their back. What the Scriptures teach is that if this is what the Father chooses for us, we must be content.





















When I was directing my way I naturally accumulated a great amount of the world’s goods. I had a house, multiple vehicles, many furnishings, closets full of material goods, and a garage filled with the same. Many of the things I had were for entertainment, comfort, or ease. I anticipated that in following the Father that He would continue to supply me with the financial means to keep this mass of worldly goods.

Soon after quitting my job and entering a full-time ministry of writing, my money began to run out. I knew I had heard Yahweh correctly, for He had given me an abundance of affirmations that I was walking the path He had chosen for me. Yet my expectations were not met, and this led me to much inner wrestling. Perhaps the word terror would more accurately describe this period of my life. I did not understand what was happening, and great doubts began to assail my mind, as well as fears of being out on the street homeless with my wife and kids.

It became necessary to begin selling some of our accumulated possessions to have money for food and to pay the bills. So we had a garage sale.


























The money would last us for a time, and then I would find that it was necessary to lighten the load some more. In God’s sight I was still carrying way too much worldly baggage with me.


























I found that I could not get past the narrow gate with all of these goods. The first thing the Father did upon my surrendering to Him was to begin stripping me of the baggage of this world. I believe this to be the pattern for a great many people who are brought to a place of counting the cost of following Christ. Christ traveled very lightly through this world. His focus was not upon material acquisition, or personal comfort, but upon doing the will of His Father.

When we read of the story of the rich young ruler, many Christians automatically think that the story does not describe them. They do not consider themselves rich in this world’s goods. The Bible describes this young man as one who “owned much property.” Does this not describe a majority of Christians today? Property is not merely real estate. It is every item that we purchase. It is all the things that fill our homes, our attics, our garages, and our storage rental buildings.

The reaction of this young man who came to Christ is the same as a great many Christians. If Christians today heard Yahshua speak to them, telling them to sell all they had and to them come and follow Him, most would go away greatly saddened. What the church has done instead is to change her doctrines. The church promotes the accumulation of goods. They have made the gate very wide and the path broad, but they are leading men and women to destruction.

Christ’s first disciples testified that they had left all behind to follow Christ (Mark 10:28). They are not an exception. We find in the book of Acts that the Christians of that first church in Jerusalem began selling possessions and lands and bringing the money and depositing it at the apostles feet to be distributed to those in need. They did what Christ urged the rich young ruler to do. We see then that Christ’s words were not an exception to be applied to one man who was inordinately wealthy. The entire church began to practice this disengagement from the world and its possessions.

Acts 4:32-35
And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them...For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles' feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.

Notice the highlighted words. They reveal that what was done by the first Christians was a general work, not an exceptional one. Upon surrendering to Christ, I too found this to be an immediate work of the Father. I believe the reason we see so little of this occurring today is that there have been very few saints who have yet counted the cost of following Christ. There are hardly any who have accepted the invitation of the Spirit to follow wherever He would lead and do whatever He would say. Men and women who are directed by their own souls are not naturally led to do those things that Christ directs His disciples to do.

People of God, my purpose in sharing these things is to prepare your heart to have correct expectations of what you will meet with when you surrender to be led of the Spirit. I was tremendously distressed, for I did not understand these things. My heart was filled with anxiety, but I submitted to the stripping of my worldly goods nonetheless. Each time I had a sale the Father cut deeper into those things I thought I needed to have, or desired to have. At the end of a year my wife and children and I found ourselves with a 28 foot motorhome and a small car in tow. We had clothes, and a few possessions which would fit into the motorhome. We also had freedom. We had no debt and no attachments to a specific place. We could go wherever the Father directed.


























Freedom

The Israelites who left Egypt to enter the wilderness had to leave many things behind. They could take only what they could carry, or what their few wagons could hold. They left homes in Goshen, and furnishings, and a great many things. Necessity dictated it. For forty years they dwelt in tents. The day came, however, when they took possession of Canaan. They received houses they did not build, and vineyards they did not plant. They became possessors of a land flowing with milk and honey.

We too are seeking to enter into the land of our inheritance. Our Savior has promised us that He goes to prepare a place for us. We will one day receive many glorious things, but on our journey to that destination we should travel very lightly through this world. We are aliens and strangers here. This is not our home.

These things I write are for that remnant of Yahweh’s people who will surrender the direction of their lives to Him. I desire that you would not be tormented by the perplexity I was met with when I began this journey. I am now accustomed to traveling light through this world, but the initial adjustment came as a shock. I would now have it no other way. What I once possessed actually possessed me. I had been in bondage to the material things I owned. Now my burden is light, for I am yoked to Christ and I am walking as He walked, and continues to walk.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

13 comments:

wendyworn said...

"Oftentimes perplexity can lead people to despair for they may believe they have somehow gotten out of God’s will and are on their own." - Thanks for writing this, because I think this is also a very common thing for those who really walk out in faith to experience. Thanks for posting these, they really help alot.

John Shacklett said...

Brother Joseph:

Thank you for another good and true word.

In my experience, I have heard preachers teach that the Lord may require us to give up what we have, but then nullify that message by assuring the congregation that He will immediately give it right back to them, and more besides.

The message of true discipleship is woefully lacking in the American church!

Brother Larry said...

I Totaly relate to having things stripped away brother Joseph,
God Broke my Heart with The Death of my best friend Pat, BUT He ment it for good, to open my eyes to all the Living for this World comforts and Flesh feel good sins,
instead of Cross baring and Living for God Our fathers Will to be Done,
I am so glade He woke me up and took me through all this, Life is about God Getting HIS Way NOT us Getting Ours, HE is The KING we are His Servents to Obey Him Fully and Faithfuly,
I really missed your Blogs for a while glad to see them again, They are a Huge Incouragement, and confirms several things, I may not agree with ALL things you have written or i don't have The Holy spirits Witness YET ! but what The Lord confirms to me is Testimony in what is coming to the Remnant,
I Pray I am as Gal2:;20,
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.
DEAD to SELF and my Wants and Alive to God OUr Fathers Will as Christ Our Lord showed us as Example, He being Born FIRST among Many Breathern,
God Bless you Joseph, keep close to Jesus, and Hearing The Holy Spirit, led by The Spirit of God,
Much fruit will come from obediance,
Love in Christ Larry

tony said...

the father has been showing me that all our material goods are either a distraction or simply just toys that don't really benefit us much at all Paul said "When I was a child I spoke as a child

I understood as a child I thought as a child;

but when I became a man I put away childish things."

I Cor. xiii. 11

things like the latest mobile phone a new TV set are all toys the father has also been striping things back in my life and telling me to grow up and put away those toys our father wants us to be mature sons, one day i will be free completely from all those toys and distractions

Anonymous said...

Brother Shacklett wrote:
In my experience, I have heard preachers teach that the Lord may require us to give up what we have, but then nullify that message by assuring the congregation that He will immediately give it right back to them, and more besides.

The message of true discipleship is woefully lacking in the American church!

Rick-Carl Comment:

Brother shacklet I can understand your frustration too. As Joeseph Herrin has said many time church have to really look at themselves. You see Churches in America are 501c3 charitable organizations. They made a deal with the GOV and replaced the GOD as some would say(I prefer YHWH) they made a deal not to have to pay the tax if they do the GOV bidding. No wherer does scripture say anything about the Government of man - in fact we are commanded to follow Yah's Laws ruling and covenants. To be tax free violates Yahshuas very direct response in scripture about the taxes, "render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar...Render unto YHWH that which is YHWH's. They are not an assembly of YHWH. Buyer beware!!

In the name of Messiah Yahshua - Bless you and your Family.


Rick-carl Family of Cyr, Servant of YHWH

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear Rick-Carl,

I posted your comment, but I felt the need to share a few thoughts on what you wrote. You stated:

"You see Churches in America are 501c3 charitable organizations. They made a deal with the GOV and replaced the GOD as some would say(I prefer YHWH) they made a deal not to have to pay the tax if they do the GOV bidding."

I do not know of any churches who entered into an agreement to do the government's bidding when they became 501c3 organizations. I believe that most did it for tax purposes, liability issues, and to keep a church from having its property assigned to an individual. Incorporation seems to meet many of the perceived needs of large organizations that have much property, numerous staff, and a variety of ministries.

I am not defending incorporation. I am only saying that it is not accurate to state that the churches made a deal with the government to do their bidding.

Incorporation is more reflective of the trend for churches to become businesses. Some are very large businesses, such as Joel Osteen's church that meets in a converted stadium in Houston, TX.

A church that is not surrendered to be led of the Spirit in all things will end up conforming itself to the society in which it exists. America is a land of commerce, and the church has become commercialized. Churches today have a board of directors, secretaries, trustees, committees, and they decide matters by voting. These are all patterns drawn from the corporate workplace. There is no presence of any of them in the Scriptures.

Continued...

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear Rick-Carl - Continued

You also stated:

"No wherer does scripture say anything about the Government of man - in fact we are commanded to follow Yah's Laws ruling and covenants. To be tax free violates Yahshuas very direct response in scripture about the taxes, "render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar...Render unto YHWH that which is YHWH's."

Your statement that "nowhere does Scripture say anything about the government of man" is contradicted in your next statement which quotes Christ's words about paying taxes. The apostle Paul is even more explicit in writing about the government of man in Romans 13.

Romans 13:1-7
Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Paul actually writes quite a bit about human government, and our need to be in subjection to it. Even when we cannot obey the government due to a conflict with the will of God, we must submit to the chastisement of the government. We see this revealed in the life of Christ and His disciples. They honored the government as far as they were able, and submitted to the judgment of the government when they were not able to obey.

It was due to this honor that so many Christians ended their lives as martyrs, following the pattern of Yahshua.

Included in your statement is the comment that we must "follow Yah's Laws, rulings and covenants." If you are suggesting that we must be subject to the Old Covenant of the Law, then I must object, for the Scriptures teach otherwise.

There is not sufficient space in a comment field to address this subject. I would recommend those interested to read the short book titled "Laying Down the Law."

http://www.heart4god.ws/id293.htm

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Anonymous said...

From Mell:

A Pastor has come forward to blow the whistle on a nationwide FEMA program which is training Pastors and other religious representatives to become secret police enforcers who teach their congregations to "obey the government" in preparation for a declaration of martial law, property and firearm seizures, and forced relocation.

In March of this year the Pastor, who we shall refer to as Pastor Revere, was invited to attend a meeting of his local FEMA chapter which circulated around preparedness for a potential bio-terrorist attack, any natural disaster or a nationally declared emergency.

The FEMA directors told the Pastors that attended that it was their job to help implement FEMA and Homeland Security directives in anticipation of any of these eventualities. The first directive was for Pastors to preach to their congregations Romans 13, the often taken out of context bible passage that was used by Hitler to hoodwink Christians into supporting him, in order to teach them to "obey the government" when martial law is declared.

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear Mack,

Thank you for your comment. I read similar things regarding the ways some ministers in the New Orleans area were used in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

I do not doubt that many churches will join the Beast system of the government. I have written about these things in a number of articles.

However, it is still disingenuous for people to state that churches made a deal to be instruments of the government in order to get tax free 501c3 status. This was my point in commenting on the previous poster's comments.

I also think it is prudent to have something more substantial than that an anonymous "Pastor Revere" has revealed a secret FEMA plan to use pastor's to corral people into the arms of the Beast system. Such things might occur, but we need to be responsible in reporting such things. There is a tremendous amount of false information floating around the Internet.

We are told in Scriptures to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." We should test all such claims to check their veracity. Even the Bible requires two or three witnesses to establish a matter.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Anonymous said...

This post ties in so much to a study we are doing on Multi-generational family-driven faith. How in the wilderness, Moses instructed the people to take care not to fall into the lifestyle of the people that would be around them in the city. It was more than just the "religious" aspect of worshipping other gods, but also the lifestyle of materialism because they would not feel the need to seek out the face of God when they are busy chasing that dream. It still applies greatly today. Our family has been releasing our goods as the Lord instructs. Not simply the things that we are being convicted of as our eyes are continually opened to them, but also the excess. It is freeing in so many ways and yet there is more to go.

Thank you for sharing this (and your personal journey). It is both an encouragement and affirmation that the Lord is moving within His people and preparing them for what His future plans.

Tam Z

Anonymous said...

Your use of the translation for Romans Romiyim 13 is incorrect Brother Joseph. The authorities are the church authorities to submit to why would Paul tell people to submit to the Roman Empire!!

No you statement is not what is scriptural. A good friend reminded me I was sent an email about the use of the words that you mentioned using Romans(Romiyim) and mans government from my comment.

We hope the spirit of understanding sees fit to help you this we pray.

It is not obvious from the original Greek text what authorities Paul was referring to in Romans 13. He does not specifically state that he is referring to civil government authorities anywhere in these verses.

It is our belief that the authorities or powers that Paul was referring to in Romans 13:1 were the spiritual leaders of the Body of Christ in Rome. Paul was not exhorting the Christians in Rome to submit to the Roman Empire. He was exhorting them to submit to their own government - to the spiritual leaders whom God has placed over the Ecclesia (called-out ones) to guide it by His Spirit.

Why would Paul be directing the Roman Christians to obey the authorities of the Roman Empire, over those of the ecclesia leaders when they had their own leaders to obey? Obviously, he was not.
Doctrine of Confusion

Rick-Carl Family of Cyr

Thank you for your time Brother Bless your efforts.

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear Rick-Carl,

I do believe we can identify from the context of Romans 13 that Paul was speaking of civil government. Please consider the following. Paul ends this section on authority with the following words:

Romans 13:6-7
For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

The church does not collect taxes or custom. These are actions performed by the civil governments of men.

The apostle Peter elsewhere speaks of honoring civil authorities.

I Peter 2:17
Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

This is an echo of Paul's words to give honor to whom honor is due. In the Old Testament Yahweh gave a law that said one was not to revile a ruler of the people. This was speaking of both religious and secular rulers. Nor did it matter whether the rulers were righteous or unrighteous.

We find that Paul, in speaking to the High Priest who ordered Paul to be struck contrary to the Law, called him a white washed sepulchre. Paul did not know he was a ruler when he made this statement. When he was informed of the High Priest's identity, Paul confessed that he was wrong in making the statement he had made.

It is ever Yahweh's principle that authority must be honored by those under it, whether that authority is in the home, the church, on the job, or in civil government. This is not to say that it must be obeyed, for our obedience must be to God whenever there is a conflict between the commands of earthly authority and Yahweh's authority.

What we are not permitted to do is to revile an authority. This extends even to the fallen angels, and is spoken of by both Peter and Jude.

Continued...

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear Rick-Carl - Continued...

One function of all government is to bring mankind to a personal cross. We all need the cross in our lives in order to be conformed to the image of Christ.

It was in submitting to the civil governments of His day that Christ was brought to His cross. When His disciples would have fought for Him, He testified that He had legions of angels that He could easily call, but He chose not to. Instead, He submitted Himself to the judgment of the Roman and Jewish authorities.

Christ is a pattern for all mankind. We are all brought to a cross through submission to authority. When I submit to the demands of an unreasonable boss, without complaint or argument, I must die to self. When a wife submits to her husband as her head and he leads the family in a direction contrary to her own wishes, then she must die to self. The disciples submitted to be flogged by civil authorities, and did not revile them. Many were martyred, and went meekly to their judgment.

It is always government that leads men to a cross, and this is why so many argue so vehemently against submitting to government. Women have denied that the Scriptures teach that they are to take man as their head. Children argue that they do not have to obey their parents. Employees and servants argue that they do not need to honor their employers and supervisors. And many men argue that they need not honor the civil authorities.

It is not because these matters are not taught clearly in the Bible. Rather, it is because obedience leads to a cross and many men despise the cross. Men do not want to suffer, and would rather fight against the government. Yet how many of the disciples of Christ entered into glory, following the pattern of Christ, by ever fighting against the government?

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.