Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Expatriates - Part Three: Where You Lead, I Will Follow
Joseph Herrin (05-21-2013)
• to banish (a person) from his or her native country.
• to withdraw (oneself) from residence in one's native country.
• to withdraw (oneself) from allegiance to one's country.
And Israel said to Joseph, "Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them." And he said to him, "I will go."
The life of the spiritual expatriate always begins with an invitation, or a commandment. Though this may appear obvious to some, it is an aspect of life in Yahweh’s kingdom that demands emphasis.
Yahweh never intends a person’s journey through life to be determined by their own initiative and will.
Do not rush over this statement. Have you considered the manner by which you arrived at the various decisions that have shaped the course of your life? As a child and youth, our lives are largely shaped by the decisions of parents, or other guardians. A transition occurs as a child finishes High School. They have by this time typically reached the age of 18. In America the age of 18 (or 21) is considered the time of transition into one’s majority. At this age the person is no longer considered a minor. They are responsible for their choices, being legally emancipated. (I do not imply that this pattern is in harmony with Yahweh’s kingdom, merely that it is the societal norm.)
It is the rare individual who at this age yields the rule of their life to God. Most youth, even from Christian families, transition from the rule of their parents to self-rule. They begin to make choices and base life decisions upon their soul’s desires and ambitions. After High School, the individual may decide to go to college, or to a technical training school, to receive the skills and education needed to obtain the job they desire. Their employment goals may be based either upon personal interest in a specific field, or upon the benefits that a job offers. The chief consideration for many is how much money they can potentially earn in a particular career, though some are motivated by other aspects of a career, such as family tradition, travel opportunities, or generous vacation time.
All such considerations are soulish. They are not what Yahweh desires His sons and daughters to use as the basis for decision making. Nevertheless, in the vast majority of cases, Christians are led by their soul’s desires, rather than by the Spirit of Christ.
Yahshua is given as the pattern for all who would be found pleasing to the Father. He demonstrated by His words and actions that every decision of His life was surrendered to His Father in heaven. Yahshua NEVER did anything of His own initiative. He ALWAYS did the will of His Father.
"I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
Yahshua therefore said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father instructed Me.”
Yahshua said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”
"For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.”
"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”
Christian parents should be promoting a life lived according to the mind of Christ to their children long before they reach the age of emancipation. This requires that parents not only instruct their sons and daughters to yield their will and desires to the rule of God, but that the parents model this behavior. Abraham provides an excellent example of a parental role model.
Throughout his young life, Isaac surely had instilled in him the concept of living a surrendered life to Yahweh. I am sure Abraham and Sarah spoke to Isaac about their departure from the land of their forebears. Isaac understood that his father was living a nomadic life in Canaan because Yahweh had called him to leave his father’s household and travel to a distant land. Furthermore, Isaac observed his father’s commitment to do whatever Yahweh required of him. This firsthand knowledge included Isaac’s experience as a youth when his father took him to the mountain of God to be offered as a sacrifice.
I cannot imagine a more impactful lesson. Isaac must certainly have been profoundly affected by his father’s actions in this matter. The understanding that one must yield EVERYTHING to Yahweh would have been indelibly impressed upon his mind as he observed his father’s obedience and surrender to this terrible experience of self-sacrifice and suffering. Isaac understood by his father’s example that the man who walks in the fear of Yahweh must yield every dream, desire, and passion of his soul to God. Where Yahweh says go, the godly man must go. What Yahweh says do, the friend of God must do.
Abraham’s life reveals an aspect of this pilgrim existence that I have often spoken of in my teachings. Abraham did not leave his father’s household of his own initiative. He did not wake up one day and say, “I am sure tired of this neighborhood. I think I will leave my father’s household and travel, trusting Yahweh to take care of me and my household.”
If this had been the manner by which Abraham arrived at his decisions, he would have had no foundation of faith upon which to stand when he encountered trials of various types. The confidence of the saints comes from the certain knowledge that Yahweh is ordering their steps. In my experiences I have frequently been brought to some trial, some extremity in my circumstances, where calamity loomed and I desperately needed Yahweh to deliver me.
Had I left my employment as a computer professional in 1999 of my own initiative, I would have lacked any confidence that Yahweh would hear my cry in a time of need. On many occasions as I was facing some threat I would seek a place apart with Yahweh and implore Him to intervene. I would remind my heavenly Father that I was brought to this place of danger, lack, or vulnerability, by yielding my will to His. It was by following the path He appointed to me that I was placed in harm’s way.
I did not speak these words as accusation, but rather to establish the ground of faith upon which I was standing. I could entreat Yahweh to deliver my family because our lives were placed into His care at His commandment. I would often rehearse before Yahweh the various ways that He had affirmed His will to me, and how I had followed to the best of my understanding. I would stand upon the fact that He is faithful, and He had given me promises of provision and help when I called unto Him. Those who choose their own course in the world do not share the same assurance.
Abraham is called the father of faith. His life reveals various aspects of the life of faith. Observe in the following Scriptures how Yahweh initiated the acts of Abraham’s life.
Genesis 12:1, 4
Now Yahweh said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you...” So Abram went forth as Yahweh had spoken to him.
Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." And He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son...
The apostle Paul reveals this pattern of faith and obedience in the following words:
So faith is from (ek) hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
The Greek word translated into English as “from” is “ek.” This Greek word means “out.” It is the prefix for the word “eklessia” which means “called out ones,” being the most common Greek word for “church” in the New Testament. Paul is saying that faith has to come out of something. Faith is not that which the name it and claim it crowd declares it to be. Faith does not originate in the soul of man, in his vain imagination, or his carnal desires. Faith is ALWAYS precipitated by a word from God.
When God speaks, when He makes His will known, then a man has something solid out of which faith might arise. Yahweh has spoken. Surely He will bring it to pass. Yahweh has commanded. Surely He will support those who obey. In the writing Understanding Faith and Healing, I shared the following:
If a man, woman, or child has not heard anything from God, faith is not present, and belief is not possible. What many are calling faith and belief is merely positive thinking, or misplaced confidence based upon a wrong understanding of God’s word.
Hearing from God is a necessary part of a life of faith. Without hearing there can be no true faith. Many are teaching a type of faith today that lacks this vital necessity of hearing God give us direction. Many are teaching a false faith that originates in man’s own mind and imagination. They encourage the saints to envision the things they want and then stand in confidence, claiming that they have these things. Elwin Roach wrote regarding this false faith:
Some have called this type of faith the “Prosperity Message,” although in less favorable circles it has been called “Name it and Claim it,” “Bless it and Confess it,” “Blab it and Grab it,” or “What the Heck, Write the Check...”
It is one thing to have the Faith of God as a result of an impregnation of His anointed word which will move mountains, but it is entirely another matter when a man carves an image in his positive-thinking mind and calls it faith, and then holds God ransom with the written word which his carnal mind has little or no understanding of. This, dear reader, is not faith, not even in the farthest stretch of the imagination. It is presumption, and God is not obligated to pay up!
Many of the saints today have built upon the shifting sands of a false faith doctrine. Its teachings rest upon a belief in a principle of faith. It is taught that if one can work up enough confidence to believe something when they ask for it in prayer, then they will be assured of having their request. The key to this type of faith is the ability of man to believe something. The saints are told that if they can conceive something, and believe in its fulfillment, then they can have it. This is not the type of faith that Abraham demonstrated.
We see the Biblical pattern of God initiating acts of faith and obedience of His people throughout the Scriptures. Yahweh is ALWAYS the initiator of the Christian life of discipleship.
“No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him...”
The Father draws, and Yahshua beckons.
And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Yahshua said to him, "If you wish to be [Greek "teleios": complete, perfect, lacking in nothing], go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
The life of a disciple of Christ is of necessity a Spirit directed life. Yahweh never instructs a man to conceive some plan in his soul and then ask Him to bless and prosper it. Yahweh must be the initiator of all that is done in His kingdom. Observe the pattern by which the great missionary and apostolic calling of Paul was begun.
And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went...
What a critical point this is! Paul and Barnabas did not initiate their ministry. They went forth at the command of the Holy Spirit. This is to be the pattern of all Christian’s lives. May it be the testimony of all of our lives that we are where we are today by the direction of the Spirit. May we all affirm as did the Son of God, “I did not even come of My own initiative, but He sent Me.”
It gives me tremendous peace and confidence to KNOW that I am where Yahweh has called me to be, and I am fulfilling that ministry He has directed me to fulfill. I can testify of the manner by which the Holy Spirit made known His call on my life as surely as Paul and Barnabas. This knowledge has been a steadying anchor when storms have assailed my life. I have held firmly to the knowledge that my ship has been steered by the only Captain qualified to direct the lives of men.
I would have broken under the strain and pressures of life long ago had it not been for the fact that I have handed the reins over to Yahshua. It is too great of a burden to take unto oneself the responsibility to decide what to do when storms and trials come. The crushing weight of decision would have overwhelmed me had I attempted to bear it.
Yahweh has led me through plenty of trials. There have been storms in abundance. I have often been in need, facing some threat, and did not know what to do. Yet, I always knew to Whom I could turn.
One of the most common prayers of my life has been “Father, my eyes are on You! I am looking to You to guide! I am looking to You to deliver!” Observers of my life, most of whom were critics offering reproach and condemnation, were quick to declare that it was my decisions that led to some trial, so they reasoned it was my responsibility to find a solution. Had their words been true, had I actually chosen the path that placed my family into peril, then I would have felt the crushing weight of responsibility. Yet, I knew my accuser’s words to be false. It was Yahweh who had directed my path. Therefore it was HIS responsibility to care for us, and to deliver us.
I have seen men broken as they sought to handle things in their own strength. Having failed to surrender the direction of their life to Christ, they never learned what freedom is found in a simple life of faith. They have acted as if it is their duty to come up with some scheme to provide, protect, and prosper their family. I have been amazed at times at the carnal scheming and unrighteous actions that some men embrace as they know no other counsel than their own, and no other strength than that which man can supply.
I know my inadequacy. The course of life is fraught with too many trials, calamities, and unforeseeable experiences. There are too many variables, too many details outside of my control. My own wisdom, strength, and ability is insignificant in comparison to Yahweh’s. It is far better to let God guide, and to leave the responsibility for one’s welfare in His hands. The days ahead are certain to be tumultuous. The nations will be shaken. The financial system of this world is tottering and will soon collapse. Who is adequate for such things?
I am not advocating laziness, or a careless attitude. A man should be very much concerned for the welfare of his family. Concern, however, does not mean “worry.” Worry is a form of fear. Worry displaces faith. The only sure way to combat worry is to be released from the belief that YOU are responsible to figure all things out and to make things happen. NO! This is Yahweh’s role. When we usurp the role of Yahweh we find that the weight of it is crushing. It will lead a man to despair.
Yahshua said, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” I have heard many interpret these words through the symbolism of two animals, such as oxen, being yoked together to plow a field. Although some good lessons can be drawn from such a comparison, I do not believe this was the symbolism Yahshua intended. The yoke referred to is the yoke of a slave. We are called to be “bondservants” of Christ. The yoke He was referring to is the yoke of slavery.
As slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart...
Consider how fitting this analogy is. A slave does not have authority to do as he pleases. He lives for the will and pleasure of another. A slave does not direct his own way. His master tells him where to go and what to do. With human masters there is fear, for men are inherently selfish. The Adamic race is not inclined to seek the welfare of another if it impinges upon their own comfort or security. Yahshua, however, is unlike men. He laid down His life for others. He ever seeks the welfare of His servants.
As a bond-slave of Christ I need not worry about whether I will have a place to lie down at night, or food to eat. If I do His will, He has promised to care for me.
“Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
There is rest and peace to be experienced by those who yield their lives to the direction of the Spirit of Christ, a rest and peace that those who direct their own way can never know. When Christ says, “Come, follow Me,” and we yield our will and desires to obey, He becomes the surety and guarantor of our lives. As Paul declared:
II Timothy 1:12
For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.
Whether you remain in the country of your forebears, or travel to a foreign location; whether you hold down a 9 to 5 job, or are led to circumstances and experiences where Yahweh has become your primary source for all things; the critical factor is that God be the initiator of the life you are living. If you will relinquish the rule of your life to Yahshua, you will find that in addition to being a guiding Shepherd, He becomes the protector and provider for your life.
I challenge you to test whether the life you are living is the life you have chosen for yourself, or the one Yahweh has chosen for you. There is great grace presented to those who yield their lives voluntarily to the rule of Christ. Do not wait for the life you are living to be violently wrested from your hands as the earth goes through its birth pangs. You can have treasure in heaven if you relinquish your life and possessions freely to Christ. There is only loss if God must take these things from you by force.
If you learn today to walk in faith, obeying and trusting Yahweh, you will be prepared to stand in days of tribulation. If you delay, you may find that your faith is inadequate for the demands of the days ahead.
For further reading on the subject of living a Spirit led life of surrender to God, the book Sabbath is recommended.
Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063