"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . . Our Website is UNDER CONSTRUCTION, please be patient!

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

BEING A RESTORER, REPAIRER, A TRUE SERVANT and SHEPHERD OVER GOD’s SHEEP

~ By James Fire 

For the Facebook video version of this teaching, follow this link to: TRUE PASTORS are TRUE SERVANTS

ISAIAH 58:6-14 
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
Isaiah’s ministry was a time in Israel’s history when there was a great divide between the Jewish people – the very affluent who could afford ‘summer homes’ along with other residences, and the very poor who could barely afford an existence lived in squalor; their ‘middle class’ instead of composing of the majority of the population, was a minority. The rich and powerful were in charge and guilty of oppressing the unfortunate while at the same time, expressing religious devotion to GOD, what with the rituals in Judaism and fasting.

The LORD here is rebuking such behavior and expressing His desire for the fast of His choosing and true service to our fellow man…

Here in America, our churches are prosperous – we have multi-media by skilled and polished personnel, sophisticated sound systems, plush, air conditioned sanctuaries, myriads of ministries, competitive wage salaries for professional, seminary-trained pastors, high-powered power point presentations centered around feel-good messages – and for all of that, what God’s people are given are philosophies and theology of men, not the bread of life, God’s Word – not the living waters, but muddy water from broken cisterns!
JEREMIAH 2:13
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Cisterns were necessary during long journeys across desert and desolate lands; They were reservoirs carved out of solid rock where water was stored and covered up. But there were times when during the carving, that these cisterns would develop a slight crack, barely noticeable, but when filled with water and left safely covered only to return during such dangerous journeys and find nothing in the cistern but muddy water!
That is like looking to the wisdom of men, philosophies and dogmas of church traditions for satisfaction and finding nothing but mud! Far better to resort to the living waters of GOD's Most Holy Word!

The sheep of the LORD are burdened by religious obligation, trapped in traditions of men (MARK 7:8; COL 2:8), starved of spiritual food and oppressed by unbiblical subjection to church hierarchy (MATT 23:4). And they do nothing to “loose the bands”, the shackles of sin – so they have congregations of slaves, unable to be liberated by liberal theology and Humanist philosophies.

Abuse of the pulpit and pastoral power is rampant (one nationally known pastor who had a congregation of over 10,000 sexually abused not one of his secretaries, not two, or three, but four, before he was finally caught and forced to resign). Other pastors demand that their church goers sign contracts that they will back up the pastor's vision for the church without reservation, otherwise they are shown the door! Unbiblical teachings proliferate and congregants who love the truth of God’s Word and point out error are told to either submit or leave! It very much reminds me of EZEKIEL 34:1-16.
And also, JEREMIAH 23:1-4, 9-14
1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. 2 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. 3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.
9 Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness. 10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. 11 For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. 12 Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord. 13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. 14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

ISAIAH 58:7
Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?


Pastors should be breaking yokes, that is, setting free those who are bound by the oppression of sin, and again, that cannot happen with self-improvement, motivational speaking, and spiritually dead philosophy but with the preaching and teaching of  and living out GOD’s Holy Word by the Spirit of grace! By the declaration of the Gospel and the proclamation of the cross of Christ and His atoning blood shed that was shed there! 

We need to declare the riches of salvation to the spiritually poor, bringing them to our houses, and to the house of GOD and clothe their spiritual nakedness in the righteous robes of Christ. We need a willingness to sacrifice for the sake the Gospel and for this lost world, even if it costs us our shirts!

ISAIAH 58:8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.

If we expect the glory of the LORD to be seen in our lives, we need to first dwell in His presence in prayer, just as Moses did, and the glory shone on his face when he returned to his people (2 COR 3:7) – so much so that they put a veil over his head to conceal it; we need to peer into His pure, life-transforming Word. 

We need then to be about our Father’s business in these needful things, because it’s then that the light will break forth from our lives in the testimony of the truth. The world will see a righteous saint of GOD in their midst and a faithful witness – and in the face of persecution, because of this righteousness, the glory of the LORD will bring restoration to us. What the world needs to see, are Christians whose doctrine and beliefs are not contradicted by how they live their lives but confirmed!

ISAIAH 58:9-11
Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:


If we are intent on following the LORD – no matter what it may cost: if we are willing to surrender all of our hearts, all of our minds, all of our souls and all of our physical strength and let GOD be all in all – our prayer lives and fellowship with our Creator and Savior will take on such depths, and heights and expanse that we have never thought possible – when we call on the Name of the LORD, He shall answer. When we cry, He shall say, Here I AM. 

I am seeking to plunge into those depths in absolute surrender – and I can’t do that apart from the grace of GOD!
If we draw out our souls to those who hunger for what they don’t even know; to those who are afflicted, who are plagued with such spiritual blindness and deafness and hardness of heart – all because of the sin that imprisons them, then GOD’s glorious light will shine clearly and freely from our lives.

This was the mission of our LORD Himself, when He came to this wicked and wayward world:

LUKE 4:16-21
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 
20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

This is the great work of our LORD, our Shepherd – and if this work was commissioned to Him by our Father, then we cannot spend our lives in any other unworthy and lesser mission!

ISAIAH 58:11
And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not
.


We are living in a spiritual wasteland today: what Amos the prophet called a famine of the hearing of the Word of GOD:
AMOS 8:11 
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:

Did you hear that? Notice what the prophet didn’t say: He didn’t say, “a famine of the words of the LORD” but rather “a famine of the hearing of the words of the LORD”! In other words, it’s not that the Word of GOD is unavailable and people are starving for lack thereof, but that people are intentionally not wanting to hear the Word and would rather starve! They’d rather hear anything except for the preaching of the Bible – this is the day in which we live:

2 TIMOTHY 4:2-4 
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Yet for all the wastelands and deserts that we are surrounded by, if we follow after the LORD and heed His Word, exalt Him above all else, and allow His Spirit to minister to saint and sinner alike through us, His clay pots (2 COR 4:7), clean and ready for the Master's use (2 TIM 2:21), we need never fear the spiritual drought that we are witnessing today!

This is also part of the ministry of the pastor – to speak prophetically to that generation in which he lives; to stand for righteousness, to denounce evil and rebellion where ever it may be found, to be a voice of God-ordained morality to a people who are adrift from the moorings of the LORD’s Truth! 
To warn of the coming judgment just as ardently as we beckon people to the Cross of Christ for salvation, for it's only by the atonement of Christ that any of us can escape the holy vengeance of GOD's judgment upon a world that while created by Him, rebels and hates Him! This is what the second half of this prophecy that LUKE Chapter 4 leaves out, because the LORD didn't read that part about "the day of vengeance"! (ISAIAH 61:2; 63:4)

This is a job too big for any flesh and blood human being! 
A pastor’s success in ministry will not be supported by his own mental powers, his own passion, his own determination, his own know-how and skills, his own ability to lead and inspire others, his own desire to be obedient to all that the LORD requires.

But if we call upon the Name of the LORD and to draw away our sinful flesh to the cross and there, die to self: not only our sinfulness, but also our own frail human capabilities; and plead with Him to fill us with Himself in all those areas in us that avoids the cross, that are now dealt with and mortified; then He will answer our call and guide us into the vast, limitless reservoirs of His Almighty grace – so that even in the midst of spiritual drought and devastation, we ourselves will be like a watered garden, full of life and life-giving fruit, whose waters fail not – that is, the Holy Scriptures and the truth that they contain, will be a perpetual flow to the thirsty and in need of counsel and comfort and reproof and rebuke.

ISAIAH 58:12
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in
.

A pastor is one who tries, in a sense, to work himself out of a job; that is, he isn’t content to minister to others himself; he is about cultivating the lives of others, pouring into them and desiring to see them raised up as ministers of GOD’s Word. Those “that be of” such a minister shall go ahead of him, and “build the old waste places” – and we see here in America, a spiritual wasteland, that was once bountiful in the knowledge of the LORD. 

By GOD’s grace, may we see some restoration of some of that which has wasted away.
A pastor is one who repairs the breaches, he fixes the brokenness in people’s lives by the very Spirit of GOD that directs his heart. He builds the spiritual walls and bulwarks in people’s lives that will ably defend them against the attacks of the enemy.

He is a restorer – one who recovers the wanderer and the lost; who delivers those heading into dangers, who recalls the rebellious and prayerfully ushers them to a repentant heart; they are all about reviving the down-trodden, and leading people to the old paths as JEREMIAH spoke, of the good ways of the LORD (JERE 6:16). He secures by encouraging the saints, to dwell in those paths, to remain and settle down there and continue in enduring steadfastly to stay in those paths of righteousness.

ISAIAH 58:13-14
13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

In the days of Isaiah, the wealthy oppressors of Jewish society felt themselves righteous before GOD because they kept the Sabbath but only in a religious sense, not a righteous sense. They were very much the predecessors of the righteous proud Pharisee that the LORD contrasted with the penitent publican:

LUKE 18:10-14
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Pastors as well as GOD’s people in general have to strip away everything that seems to do with righteousness but really is just religion. What we crave is holiness not hypocrisy! James tells us what true religion is:

JAMES 1:26-27 
26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Again, the pastor’s ministry is kindred to that of the Holy Spirit – to point to JESUS, not himself; to lead people to the LORD, not to himself, to exalt the Word of GOD, not his own thinking or philosophy. We, if we are true servants, true shepherds, true pastors must become desperate in our thirst, in our hunger for more and more of the LORD Jesus Christ in our hearts and lives.
Anything less is unacceptable and cannot yield the results,the good works and good fruit that the LORD has in mind - and all of this by His Spirit of grace, for His glory and His glory alone!

What we pastors have to understand is our precious LORD, Who agonized on the Cross, shedding His righteous blood and suffering the wrath of GOD's judgment upon our sin, proved His great love for His bride, the church - and has asked us, His servants, to take care of His bride, while He is away, preparing her a place in our Father's house! This is a most sacred trust! May we by GOD's grace remain faithful to the saints, GOD's sheep that He has entrusted to us. Amen.

This teaching was presented on JAN 12th 2020 when Albert Lopez (seated on the right) and myself, James Fire (seated on the left) were officially recognized as pastors for ETERNAL LIVING WORD Church. We genuinely covet your prayers for this ministry, for ourselves as well as for your own pastor/elders, that we will serve the LORD faithfully to all of His flock. 
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