Gentle Shepherd Come and Lead Us….But I Still Did It My Way

 

Gentle Shepherd come and lead us for we need you to help us find our way………..back when I heard another group sing this same song just as good as the Gaither Home coming was in November 1983 it was cold and raining, the special day was at my wedding. When I sang the words of this song on that day I meant every word. The word of God says, “you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” However, at this time in my life at the age of 22 I can honestly say I was as far from the truth as one could get. Oh, don’t get me wrong I was born-again 8 years earlier, but I had a dozen excess baggage’s of hurts, emotional abuse, and sins that would make one question whether I really received Christ or not. The change in me at the age of fourteen was to me undeniable the weight of sin lifted off my shoulders and was gone, I felt clean, like a brand new creature in Christ. However, due to excess baggage and not knowing how to solve or know what to do with them eluded me as well as my new bride.

I was saved in a religion that was legalistic where works were more important than grace, how I looked was more important than an intimate walk with God. The more stringent I would adhere to rules and regulations the closer to God I would be. However, in Acts 15 it tells us of the Gentiles who got saved through Paul and Barnabas but contention arose between them and legalistic Christians. I know people tell their story better than I do so let them tell it in their own words, “Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1 NASB)
Then in verse 7 we continue the story. 
 “After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between them, and us cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” (Acts 15:7-11 NASB)

I brought this up because it is vital to my life story to show you how wrong my thinking was at that time in my life. That the truth I knew about Christ was a lie. It only hindered my healing process for many years because my personal view of God was far from seeing him as a loving savior far from seeing his salvation is of grace not of works. While growing up I felt I had to dance and sing; figuratively speaking, I felt I had to do better in order for my parents to accept me and when I became a Christian nothing changed for me. How I felt about how to get my family to accept me I had transferred this same concept to God. The legalistic environment I was apart of then made me feel the same way. I believed I had to dance and sing so to speak, to follow rules and regulations in order for God to accept me. It would take me 14 years through some pretty dark roads and pathways for me to discover the truth that God loved me unconditionally just as I am. That even in my most ugly state He sent His son and His Son willingly accepted to die just for me. I was very lovable and selfish this truth blew me away. My Christian walk is by faith. Faith is what made me righteous in God’s eyes not my works, although good works is a byproduct that came about because of my faith and never the other way around. Works is never a byproduct of faith. As James put it faith without works is dead.

The scripture makes it clear, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9 NASB) Paul gives another strong reasoning in this next verse, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” (Romans 11:6 NASB) Again it says, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,” (Romans 4:5 NASB)

At this time in my marriage I didn’t know all this till 28 years later God would have to take me through a dark valleys, some deep dark tunnels, hard trials and for people to throw me away for me to see the truth. In order for my healing to begin drastic changes in my life had to happen in order for me to check in my excess baggage forever with the master physician. However, in the mean time sin clouded my judgments along with my pains from my past along with new ones being created on basis of the lies I believed at the time.

The problem was as Frank Sinatra and Elvis sang so beautifully, “I did it My Way” and there was the problem. The Lord was patient, loving and full of mercy with me even though my healing was gradual and I made a very slow progress. Romans chapter 7 describes me very well at this time for it says in verse 14 through 16, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, But I am doing the very thing I hate.” Skipping down to verse 18, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present with me, but the doing of the good is not.”

I admit I played a fool and a hypocrite even though my heart was sincere in wanting to serve the Lord the will to do it escaped me. Oh God still worked through me because His word will not return to him void. I wasn’t completely sold out to him. I still wanted my way, which greatly hindered what God wanted to do with me in the youth ministry, church discipleship, and latter church Pastor.

I was living a Romans Chapter 7 Christian when in the last 4 years God revealed the truth that set me free. Now I am living a Romans chapter 8 Christian. My mind went from focusing on what the flesh desires (Romans 7) to focus on what the Spirit desires (Romans 8).

Allow me to illustrate further with the word of God.

Romans 7:15 (NASB) For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

How many of you have been there or maybe you’re in there now and it frustrates you greatly.

Romans 7:21-24 (NASB)
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

The answer is in this verse notice what Paul is saying. One hand with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Once the mind grasp hold of the real truth then we are set free from past lies. As verse 24 states, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Then in verse 25 says who will set me free, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Romans 7:25 (NASB)
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Notice in verse 22 I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, verse 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body waging war against the law…of what…MY MIND. My mind needed to be free to the truth in chapter 8.

Now let’s look at my transformation into a Romans 8 Christian

Romans 8:1-14 (NASB)
1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

No condemnation for those who are in Christ!!! For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from …What? The law of sin and of death!

3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The law was weak but God sent His son as an offering for sin condemned sin, so that the requirement of the Law would be fulfilled in us.

5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 
7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

We became dead to sin when the seed of Christ was birthed within us. However, our minds have not grasped hold of the truth that it has been set free. Our minds are in the habit of satisfying our selfish wants and desires. In verse 5 it all depends on what you set your minds on. In Verse 6 for the mind-set on the flesh is death but the mind-set on the Spirit is life and peace. Verse 8 those who are in the flesh cannot please God, that is precisely why the old nature is dead within us and we are alive in Christ.

Take a careful look at the next verses 9 through 11 and you will see what I mean.

9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Notice what it says above I highlighted it for you. You are NOT in the flesh but IN the Spirit. Also notice, if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ DOES NOT BLEONG TO HIM. Meaning that person has not been born-again. When Christ said on the cross that it is finished he referred to the plan of salvation was complete. Once we were born again the old nature dies and yet our minds are still controlled by the flesh until we deal with the truth we have been set free and we have the power through Christ to be over comers to sin in this world. Look at the next verse 12 – 14.

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—
13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

We must be lead by the Spirit in putting to death our habitual deeds of the body. Example: I had laser surgery done on my eyes, I have had to wear glasses ever since I was in third grade, but in my mind I still had the thought that I was still wearing them. Pushing them up on my face when they were not there or reaching over to the nightstand to get your glasses that you do not need. Habits of sin need to be broken…. Why? You no longer need it that’s why. Jesus done laser surgery on you and you are now dead to sin but walk in newness of life. The chains of the carnal nature are broken but our desires are still ever-present with us. Our desires we have to discipline, to put them under our control and not let our desires control what we do. Since the carnal nature is crucified to the cross we now have freedom of choice to decide what we do with our desires. The example of what I am talking about is written below for in

Romans 7:1-3 (NASB)
1 or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 
2 For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 
 3 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.

The main focus of this passage is not on marriage but the main point is about us being chained to the law. For he says, “I am speaking to those who know the law” and continues with verse 4 he continues with his thought by saying “therefore.”

Romans 7:4-6 (NASB)
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 
5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

To be Continue………

 

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CHANGE ME, HELP!!!! I Need To Overhaul My Mind

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2 NKJV)

God loves us way too much to leave us where we are so its through life’s events that he helps in our transforming process. The renewing of our minds to a better plane of living and thinking is vitally important for a God who deeply loves those He created. Being cut off from God at birth alienated by His morals, His truth and His love, only to be taught by someone who wants to sift every one of us as wheat, to devour and destroy, to burn in hell as his end has been decreed. So our perspective is everything to God we’ve been taught lies which causes us to see things from a lying point of view, tarnished and blurred has been our perspective until we come to Christ in a born-again experience. Then slowly as God tears away one lie at a time, replacing that lie with a spiritual truth about life itself, our perspective slowly begins to change from darkness to light. Being born into sin with an already corrupt thinking process has left us mentally challenged to what the real truth is. That is why being transformed by the renewing of our mind through the power and influence of God’s word is vitally important to living an abundant life.

If our perspective is a lie then everything I see around me will be with the false assumption of that same lie. For instance if my perspective of God is of the false assumption that he stands up in heaven with a baseball bat ready to pounce on me when I mess up. This false assumption, this lie will cause me to feel defeated, worthless and that no one cares, for if God doesn’t care so why even try?! Why, because I believe it to be the real truth of who God is and how he will treat me when I mess up. If I further believe this lie then it affects my whole life. For if God doesn’t love me then he doesn’t care what I go through or what happens to me so in the process I end up losing all hope. I will end up thinking that suicide is my only option.

However, the reading of God’s word will change my perspective from the lie to the real truth of the matter thereby changing my earlier point of view I will realize who God is and that He is a God of love. That He does indeed love and care about every single thing I go through and experience. Knowing what the truth is makes His word truth and if God says He will do something for me it in turn becomes a promise.

John 15:12-13 (KJV)
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus gave up His life for us in this there is no greater love. Take a look at the next verses of scriptural truth.

John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it up again. No one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from my Father

This truth states how much He loved me to pay for sins he didn’t commit. To suffer and die a horrible death just for me is mind boggling. To know He always had a choice, that He could of said no at any time further states how much God loves me.

John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Jeremiah 31:1-3 (NASB77)

1 “At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.”

2 Thus says the Lord, “The people who survived the sword Found grace in the wilderness– Israel, when it went to find its rest.”

3 The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

God so loved us that He gave the best he could offer on our behalf. To love us with an everlasting love to draw us unto him with loving-kindness is a transforming perspective of truth that God has not abandon us nor has He forsaken us but is constantly working to replace each lie with His truth in order for you and me to have an intimate walk with him and to experience an abundant life, a little bit of heaven on earth if you will. That we can be so in armored by His truth His promises that we can have peace even in the midst of our stormed tossed life. Allow God with His truth to replace each and every lie so your perspective WILL be changed and you will see everything in a whole different light a whole different perspective than you did yesterday.

Personal note:

I have believed a lot of lies that were taught me by the devil through many avenues of media. I was blinded to the truth of God and it seemed foolish to me until the day I was born-again at the age of fourteen. The changing of my perspective has been a long process for me from the age of fourteen to the age of fifty, dramatic changes for me has occurred since 2008. The battles, the pains, the sufferings and the regrets were good teachers that brought me to the truth in Christ and of His word. I stand before you as a testimony as to what truth can do for a person who wants change and needed it as desperately as I did, however the ripple effects of my living in lies is still affecting me today. The truth is much sweeter by far and the travel well worth the trip to get me here. Thank you Jesus!!!

Intimacy With Christ

Richard Wafford