The shepherd, the wolf and the hireling. Which one are you?

I remember a day long ago when my children were very young and I was a stay at home mom. I  was praying and I told the Lord that I was frustrated by the fact that I had no real opportunities to lead anyone to Christ because I was always home with them. I will never forget His answer to me that day. He told me to evangelize them, to preach the gospel to them, to disciple them because they were His lambs. It really opened my eyes to look at things in a new way. We often think of shepherds as pastors, leaders, or people in authority in a ministry or church. But God has called each one of us to disciple others. If you look at 1 John 2:12-14, the apostle John gives us a very detailed description of spiritual maturity. Let’s look at it like this. When a baby is born, the parents naturally expect that child to grow into toddlerhood, childhood and eventually become a teenager and finally, an adult. No one would expect their baby or toddler to remain a baby forever. As a matter of fact, most parents eventually expect to become grandparents, when the time is right. How does a parent become a grandparent? Well, obviously it’s because the children have become parents themselves.

 This same process of maturity should also happen in the spirit realm. John tells us in this same chapter, that there are several phases of spiritual maturity. In verse 12 he is writing to infants. The English translation just says little children, but the Greek word Teknion actually says “infant”. This is important because in verse 13 he addresses little children again in the English, but this time the Greek uses a different word. This word is Paidion which means young child. He goes on in these verses to speak to those who are called young men, or youths. Finally, he speaks to fathers, thereby describing the progression of spiritual maturity. I will state the obvious. You cannot become a father, unless you have children. So why is he telling us these things? Because he wants each one of us to grow up and “parent” others. Babies are self absorbed and do not care about anyone else except themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, they cannot stay that way. So, let’s go back to my original thought. We are all supposed to grow up in the Lord and become shepherds, or spiritual fathers and mothers. Does that mean we all have churches or ministries? No! But, I guarantee if you look at your life right now, you will see people around you that you are “shepherding”. It could be your children, your small group, a class you are teaching, your coworkers, family, friends, the list could go on and on. 

And with this knowledge in mind, the following question comes to my mind: what kind of shepherd am I? What kind are you?  In John 10:7-16 Jesus is talking to the Jews and He tells them about three kinds of shepherds. He tells them about “good shepherds”, He of course being The Good Shepherd, He tells them about wolves, and He tells them about hired hands or hirelings. Good shepherd love their sheep. We know from Jesus’ example, that good shepherds lay down their lives for their flock. Ephesians 5:25 tells us “husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”. In John 21:15-17 Jesus has a conversation with Peter in what is commonly considered Peter’s restoration. If you examine this conversation closely, it becomes apparent that Jesus is not just restoring Peter, He is also teaching him how to become a “good shepherd”. The first question He asks Peter is “do you love me more than these?” He is of course referring to his friends, family and coworkers. This question tells me that a good shepherd not only is willing to lay down his or her life for their flock, but that they have to love Jesus more than anyone else. He tells us in Matthew 10:34-39 that “whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me”. So let me put it this way. The most important ingredients to being a “good shepherd” is loving Jesus more than anyone else, even your own family and of course, loving Him more than yourself! When asked which is the greatest commandment, Jesus answered like this: “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

He goes on to tell Peter, that if he loves Jesus, then he is to tend or take care of and feed His sheep. Notice, not Peter’s sheep. Jesus’ sheep! A good shepherd knows that ultimately the sheep belong to Jesus, which brings me to the next kind of “shepherd”, the wolf.

I think that when most of us, me included, think of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, we think of some cult leader, an obvious wolf leading people astray and teaching them to follow him, not Jesus. But if you look at scripture, it becomes obvious that neither Jesus, nor the disciples were talking only about cult leaders. They were also talking about “shepherds” who spoke a version of the truth, but not the whole truth. In Matthew 24: 4-5 Jesus warns us that in the last days, we need to be careful that “no one leads us astray”. Some translations call it deception. If it was obvious, it wouldn’t require a warning about not being deceived, would it? He says “For many will come in my name, saying “I am the Christ”, and they will lead many astray. I’m sure there are numerous opinions on what exactly Jesus meant by this, not the least of which is that people will come pretending to be the Christ. This has most definitely already happened. But I think He is also warning us about “Christians” who pretend to be something they are not. Paul warned his disciples in Acts 20:29 that “after his departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them”. 

If you believe that someone cannot be a wolf if he or she tells you that Jesus is the Christ, you would be wrong. James tells us in James 2:19 that “even the demons believe-and shudder!” Luke has a story where the demons told Jesus that they knew who He was. (Luke 4:41)  I think the greatest judgement however, comes from Jesus’ own mouth. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus tells us the following: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many might works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Let’s look at what this difficult scripture is really saying to us. These people were obviously what our modern society would call Christians. They even called Him Lord. They spoke prophecies in His name. They cast out demons in His name. They did mighty works in His name. So why did He not know them? Because they were leading double lives. They were hypocrites. They were workers of lawlessness. Workers of unrighteousness! Are we told what they did? No. But we are told what Jesus considers to be works of lawlessness. In Revelation 21:8 He tells us those who will end up in the lake of fire: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” 

When I look at those sins, I have to wonder. Why would cowards go to hell? Why would a liar go to hell? Here’s why: If I know the truth, but I only tell you half truths, the truth that you want to hear, but I don’t tell you all of the truth, then I am lying by omission. If I know the truth, if I know that a wolf is coming, but I’m too afraid of offending you or upsetting you or getting rejected by you to tell you that he is coming, am I not a coward and a liar? Am I not fearing you more than God; Loving the praises of men, more than the praises of God? 

If you think that I’m being harsh, let me tell you a story. In Acts 24:24-26 Paul shares the “gospel” with Governor Felix. I would have to say that this gospel which Paul spoke to Felix about, is a different gospel than what I have heard in most churches (and I have been to quite a few churches because I have lived in so many different places) in my life: “And as he reasoned (with Felix) about righteousness and self control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said “Go away for the present”. When is the last time you alarmed someone with the gospel? If we are not preaching this kind of gospel, where we are alarming people about sin and the coming judgment, then are we really speaking the truth? Are we not in fact, wolves in sheep’s clothing, leading people astray? 

Finally I will come to the most difficult one of all, in my opinion to understand: the hireling. What exactly is a hireling or a hired hand? The most obvious answer is that this is someone who works for pay. Someone who doesn’t own the sheep, someone who doesn’t care about the sheep, certainly who doesn’t love the sheep, but pretends to be a shepherd. Jesus describes the hireling in the following way in John 10:12-13: “He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep”. What does He give as the primary reason that this person is a hireling? He doesn’t care about the sheep. He doesn’t love them. Very simple. Love! This type of “shepherd” is the one who takes care of sheep because he or she gets something out of it. It might not be money. It might be likes, or shares, or praises of men, or it could simply be that being a “shepherd” makes them feel good about themselves, it makes them feel worthy, valuable. No matter. They are in fact working for themselves, getting paid in some form or fashion. They do not love The Shepherd, and they certainly do not love the sheep. 

Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of difference in the end between a wolf and a hireling. They both end up in the same place, hell. So I have to really examine my heart on a regular basis. Who am I working for? What am I working for? Do I love Jesus more than myself? Or am I working for the praises of men? Speaking the truth is not usually popular. It appears harsh. It creates rejection, offense, anger. But in the end, you and I will both have to stand before the Great Shepherd, The Good Shepherd and I for one, do not want to be accused of being a coward or a liar. Do you? 

Does the coronavirus scare you?

To say we live in difficult times is an understatement. Sometimes I find it not only a little scary but also a little confusing. If you look at the internet there seems to be a mix between those who are completely denying the reality of what is happening around the world right now, and those who are spreading the flames of fear. Neither one is good. The Lord really had to rebuke me the other day because I had spent hours watching videos on what is happening with the corona virus around the world. It was filling me with fear. He actually called me Henny Penny, the little chicken from the children’s book that went around yelling “the sky is falling”. But Lord, it really is falling! Yes, it is. Amos tells us in Amos 5:18-19 the following: “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness and not light. It will be as though a man fled a lion, and a bear met him. Or as though he went into a house, leaned his hand on a wall, and a serpent bit him”. It is quite clear from Scripture that the Day of the Lord is not a good season. However, that being said, we as Christians need to have the kind of faith that can rise above the fear that the world is experiencing. It is at this time that I have to go back into my arsenal and look at the ways that the Lord has protected me in the past. I remember 20 years ago I had a strange dream that made no sense to me when I woke up. I was walking through a dark forest and I could see storm clouds in the sky. I came to a little cabin in the woods and when I went inside, I heard the Lord say the following to me: “I am the Lord of the Lightening, do you trust me not to get hit?” I woke up not sure what to expect. Several hours later I felt this deep darkness come over me that was so strong that I actually fell asleep for a few minutes. When I woke up I asked the Lord what it was that I was experiencing. He told me that Satan desired to touch one of my children. I immediately began to pray for protection over them, but I still had no idea what was happening. Two hours later I received a phone call from one of my pastors. My oldest son, who had been skiing with other people from church, had had a skiing accident. He lost a ski while jumping from a big hill and not able to land correctly, crashed into the ground landing on his head and his knee. He convulsed and then lay still. The people behind him thought he might be dead. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and I was called. But he wasn’t dead. As a matter of fact, he walked out of that hospital 4 hours later with a sprained knee and a concussion. He told me that he knew what happened was demonic because he could feel “someone” hold his ski as he took off from the hill. A week later a young man jumped off that same hill and broke every bone in his body and died. Was I afraid when I received the call? No! Because I had been warned and my son was protected. I rejoiced in the goodness of God as I drove to the hospital that afternoon. What can I learn from this memory? I can remind myself that those who fear the Lord, those who trust in His goodness will be protected. What memories do you have of God protecting you or one of your family members? If you are struggling with fear right now, go back into your arsenal and remind yourself of the ways that God has protected you, provided for you, and taken care of you in the past.

Perhaps you read the above story and you thought to yourself, well I don’t have anything as dramatic in my life as a dream or a vision giving me insight into what is happening. That circumstance was unusual for me as well. Several years ago my youngest son was in the hospital having surgery. He was thousands of miles from home, in a strange place and the surgery was not going as well as they had hoped. I don’t know all the details but I do remember that when my son was put back into his room, he kept calling me. He called me several times that day because he was afraid. He sounded so weak and exhausted on the phone and I felt so helpless. I knew that even if I got on a plane that very day, it would be a long time before I could get to him. By the end of the day, after numerous phone calls from my very sick son, I got angry at God. I told Him that I couldn’t understand why He had been so silent all day on this matter. I had been seeking Him, praying for my son and I got silence. His answer shocked me. He told me that He had already talked to me about this matter of my son, and that I needed to go back and look at that promise again. I was speechless. But it also taught me a great lesson on standing on my promises. A couple of years earlier, while I was in a class at church, the Lord spoke to me very clearly. He told me the following: “You have never had a safe man in your life. But I am your Father, your Brother and your Husband and I am safe, and I will always protect what is yours”. There it was. My son was protected. He recovered from that surgery and he did eventually come home. But I had to learn to apply that promise and to stand on it. I have taken great liberties with that promise. There are many people and things that I now claim as my own. Not for my benefit but because I plead His protection over them. Look back at your life. Has God made you a promise of protection? Perhaps it was something you read in your Bible. Maybe it was a verse that spoke to your heart, or something you heard Him say to you. I am not special and what He has said to me He will say to anyone who has the faith to receive it. If you don’t have a verse or promise, you are welcome to use mine. God is no respecter of persons. What He gave to me He will freely give to you, if you can believe it. I would love to hear your stories. In this crazy time we live in, we need to encourage each other with “songs of deliverance”.

Corrupt Families in power

I have noticed a trend recently when it comes to power. If you look at history, often times the most corrupt regimes were and are run by the same family, generation after generation. We can see it in our own government as well. How many political families have been in power for decades, their children reaping the rewards simply because of their last name. God’s people are not immune from this problem either. If you look at the Levites in Scripture, you will find a similar issue. What had once been orchestrated by God Himself had become so corrupted by the time of Jesus, that their false teachings and pride had blinded them so much that they crucified the very Messiah they were looking for. Thousands of years of family run religion had turned into a ruling class that created nothing but fear and false teachings. Jesus himself accused the Pharisees of being responsible for every prophet that had ever been stoned and killed. (Matthew 23:34-46) Does the New Testament address this issue? I believe it does. In Ephesians 4:11-12 Paul speaks about something which is commonly called the Five Fold Ministry. Paul tells us that God gave us Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers for the equipping of the saints. These leaders are for the edifying of the Body of Christ. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that although we are all part of the body of Christ, we are each individual members, or parts that make up the body. He asks the Corinthian church “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing?”. We all know that our bodies have many different organs and each one has its own function and importance. Just as our physical organs work together, the different gifts need to work together in the body of Christ. God ordained it that way for our own protection. Paul was teaching the Corinthians wisdom when he tried to help them set up their leadership. By allowing different gifts to flourish in a church body, it equips the saints and helps each member to mature and grow. Teachers help those with the gift of teaching to learn how to teach. Prophets teach those with that gift to hear and prophecy what God is saying to the congregation, etc. But it also keeps the different parts accountable to each other. It keeps the body and the leadership from becoming blinded and falling into deception and false teaching. Jesus is looking for a pure and spotless bride that He can bring home one day. That is the one and only goal that we each should have for both ourselves and for those around us.

Why praying for an enemy is so powerful.

Have you ever had an enemy in your life? By that I mean a real enemy, someone who actively works to do you harm, not just someone who doesn’t like you. I would venture that the answer is probably yes. Recently, it came to my attention that someone I have suspected for many years, is indeed my enemy. This person actively works to hurt me and destroy my reputation. So what do you do when something like this happens? Do you become angry? Bitter? Vindictive? Spread slander? Refuse to forgive? I will admit, those are all powerful temptations in a situation like this, but there is one thing that God has been repeatedly showing me, and that is the power of forgiveness. Not just for me, but also for the other person. I thought about this individual and as much as they hate me, I realized that their level of hatred has to be comparable to the level of darkness and deception that they are in bondage to. The Bible tells us we do not wrestle with flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6:12) They are blind to the truth. And quite frankly, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed to pray for mercy and that God would forgive them. I don’t wish hell on even my worst enemy! As I pondered on this situation and prayed about it, the Lord began to show me some scriptures to help me understand what was happening in the spirit realm as I sought His mercy, choosing to forgive, and standing in the gap for this individual. He took me first of all to His crucifixion in John 20:23 where He asks His Father to forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing. He then took me to Acts 7:55-60 which is the story of Stephen being stoned to death because of his faith. Stephen cries out to the Lord, whom he sees standing at the right hand of the Father, and says: “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” (Vs. 59) This same passage introduces us to a young man named Saul, who later becomes the Apostle Paul. Why are we given these examples? If you go to John 20:23 Jesus tells His disciples the following: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”. We have the power to forgive sin on behalf of others. What do I mean by that? When I forgive this person who has become my enemy, I am standing in the gap on their behalf. I am in effect becoming their mediator. Now I know we only have one mediator, that being Christ Jesus, but He wants us to be like Him. What I believe He revealed to me is that when we choose to forgive our enemies, something powerful is released in the spiritual atmosphere. I think we are in fact reducing the devil’s power over that person when we forgive and ask God to forgive them as well. He tells us that He desires mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6, Matthew 9:13) Is it possible that the reason why Saul became the Apostle Paul, is because of Stephen’s forgiveness for his sin of murder that Saul committed against him that day? God loves us. He loved the world so much that He sent us His Son. I cannot save anyone, obviously, and my forgiveness and standing in the gap on their behalf, does not save them, but I believe it lessens the devil’s power enough that God can work in their lives, so that they too can cry out to Him and ask for His mercy. That is the power of intercession at work!

Can we really expect Jesus to protect us?

Recently as I stood worshiping in church, the Lord showed me a vision. I saw a large crowd of people standing to the right in my vision and they were raising their hands high in worship, singing to the Lord and praising Him. At the front of this crowd several people held a banner high. I knew that these people were standing their ground but I wondered why they were not moving. No sooner had I thought this, when He expanded my vision and I saw the hordes of hell on my left, and they were shooting flaming arrows at the people praising God. Then something amazing happened; the arrows hit an invisible barrier, like a force field, and fell to the ground. The people of God were protected.

The next morning as I sat reading the Bible, I starting reading Psalm 47 and I realized that the whole psalm literally described what I had seen in the vision. The psalm is only 9 verses long so I highly recommend that you read the whole thing yourself, but let me give you just a small sample of what I read. Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth…God has gone up with a shout, The Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!…The princes of the people have gathered together, the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted. Psalm 47:1,2,5,6, and 9. What really caught my eye in this psalm is the word “shields” in verse 9. This word in the Hebrew literally means defense, a protector, a small shield or buckler. God is indeed our shield of protection.

When I look around me however, I see very little evidence of this. I see fear in the news, fear in sermons, fear in conversations, and I see a lot of people who do not believe that God is protecting them. There is a great deal of fear over what is coming onto this earth in these end times. There is so much fear, that at times, we could easily be led to believe that the enemy is stronger than God; that the enemy is in control, not God, and that God is simply reacting to the enemy’s power and strength. It is a constant battle of the mind, to take God at His word and trust Him that He will protect those that are His. So how do we overcome this battle? How do we walk in His protection, and how do we overcome this fear?

If you look up the word shield as used in this psalm, you’ll notice that it is used 60 times in the Old Testament, and in over 20 of those references, it is talking about God being our shield. As I read through each of the more than twenty verses, I began to see a pattern and I thought I would share that pattern with you.

God is a shield to those who walk uprightly, and have an upright heart. (Proverbs 2:7, Psalm 7:10 and Psalm 84:9-12)

God is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. (Psalm115:9-11, Psalm 18:2 and Psalm 28:7)

God is a shield to those who hope in His Word, and trust in His promises. (Psalm 119:114)

God is a shield to those who allow Him to train them and believe that He is their refuge. (Psalm 144:1-2)

God is a shield to those who believe that He saves them. (Psalm 18:35)

God is a shield to those who wait for the Lord. (Psalm 33:20)

God is a shield to those who allow Him to comfort them. (Psalm 3:3)

God is a shield to those who walk in the light of His countenance and who rejoice in His name. (Psalm 89:15-18)

If we go to the New Testament Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:11-17 to put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. But he also tells us to take up the whole armor (vs 13). What he is saying here is that you can’t just put it on, you have to actually use it! So let’s break it down into something manageable and easier to understand.

The first weapon is truth. He tells us to wrap truth like a belt around our waist. The belt holds things up. Who is the truth? Jesus! We are to wrap Jesus around ourselves like a shield of protection. He will hold everything up for us, and He will keep everything together for us.

The second weapon is the breastplate of righteousness.  Who is our righteousness?  Again, Jesus! His blood covers our sins and pays the price for our iniquities and trespasses. Have you repented and trusted that you are covered and protected with His righteousness, not your own?

Next, put on your feet the preparation and the knowledge that God wants to be at peace with His children, through Christ. He wants to be reconciled to us. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) We must believe that God loves us and wants to be reconciled not just with us, but with those around us.

The shield of faith is next. The interesting thing about this word shield is that although the word shield which I used earlier from the Old Testament is a small one, or a buckler, the shield that Paul talks about in this verse is a large one. It comes from the root word door. It is a large, door shaped shield. Full body protection!  When we put our trust, our faith in Jesus, He is like a shield of protection for us. We can hide behind His blood. He is our righteousness. He is our truth. He is our peace. He is our salvation. But we must have understanding about this. David tells us in Psalm 47:7 that we are to sing praises to God with understanding! God does not cover our sins, He washes our sins in the Blood of Jesus through our repentance.

Finally, Paul tells us to put on the helmet of salvation. A helmet protects our head, our brain. It is our mind that the enemy loves to attack. There is good reason why Paul tells us that the only way we can be transformed is through renovation of our mind. (Romans 12:2) Yes, I said renovation. The word renewing comes from the Greek word renovation. We have to tear down the old beliefs, the old strongholds that the enemy has used to put us into bondage before we came to Christ, and renew our thinking. Our trust must be in Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

I couldn’t help but notice that the armor of God in Ephesians and all those verses about God being our shield of protection in the Old Testament, are talking about the same thing. Nothing has changed except this: we now have the knowledge of Christ our Righteousness, which they did not have. But it is still our faith in God, our trust that Jesus died for our sins on the cross, and then rose from the dead, and our obedience to His word, that prompts Him to be our shield of protection. Psalm 91:1-2 tells us that “He who dwells (remains or sits down) in the secret place of the Most High shall abide (stay or live) under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust”. This Psalm goes on and on about God’s protection. Truly, nothing has changed.

Jesus tells us in Revelation 3:20,  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.”

What door is Jesus standing at? He is talking in this verse to the lukewarm church of Laodicea. This is a church that thinks it is rich and wealthy, and needs nothing. Yet Jesus is ready to spew them out of his mouth because He thinks they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked (vs. 17) Why is Jesus standing at the door of a church? What door are they using to protect themselves? What is their shield of protection? It certainly cannot be Jesus, or He wouldn’t be knocking at their door and telling them this.

Jesus tells us in John 10 that He is the door of the sheep. He is the door to heaven. He is the door for our salvation. He is the door of protection. So if He is the door, then I ask again, what door of protection is He standing at and knocking?

Is it their money? Pride? Denial that He will judge us? A mental graven image of who they think He is? A belief system that has worked for them in the past? Denominational glasses? Jesus is standing in front of that door they are using to protect themselves with, and He is knocking.

What are you using to protect yourself with in this life? Is He standing at your door and knocking? Will you open up and let Him become your shield of protection?

Why becoming aware of your 5 spiritual senses is so important.

I’m an early riser and my favorite part of the day is the time before dawn, when the world is still quiet and it’s just me and the Lord. I got up this morning and it seemed like any other day, except this morning I was distracted. I couldn’t seem to focus on what I was reading in the Bible, and when it came time to just talk to the Lord and listen for what He wanted to tell me, I couldn’t hear a thing. Nothing. Now you might think that I’m not alone in this problem and I’m sure I’m not. But what I would like to share with you is how I overcome these kind of mornings. What exactly do I do, to push through the darkness, the distractions, the worries, and the cares of life?

Let me ask you a question first of all and you’ll understand why in a moment. What would your life be like, if you did not have any physical senses? How about if you were just missing one of those senses, like for example, your ability to see? Or how about your ability to hear? How about taste, or touch or smell? Which one would you be willing to give up? I think that most of us would answer quite readily, none of them. And why would that be? Because our physical senses connect us to the world around us. They allow us to interact with other people, to enjoy creation, to read a good book, listen to music, or enjoy a good meal.  The list of things that we do with our senses is endless. Life would literally not be the same if we were missing even one of them. But how about all of them? What would your life be like, if you had no physical senses? None? Think about that for a minute.

With that thought still fresh in your mind, I want to show you a verse in Hebrews that you might have missed, or never really thought about. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14

Did you catch the word senses? Now I know that whoever wrote this book did not mean our physical senses. He’s referring to the spirit realm when he talks about discerning both good and evil. Paul tells us quite plainly in 1 Corinthians 15:44 “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body“. Jesus Himself tells us in several of the gospels “My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, Fear Him!”  Luke 12:4-5. So what exactly is cast into hell? The spiritual body. The eternal body that each of us have.

Now let’s go back to Hebrews 5, where we are told that in order for us to become spiritually mature, we must learn to use our spiritual senses. The word used is exercise. It means exactly that. Just like you get better at biking or jogging by doing it over and over, you must exercise your spiritual senses. In other words, you must use them regularly, in order to get better at using them.

I remember when I first learned this, I was a little overwhelmed. Wait, I have a spiritual body? Ok, technically I knew that. After all I knew that this part of me, my spiritual body, would spend eternity in heaven with Jesus. But no one, and I mean no one had taught me that I was to somehow use that body here on earth. I thought, or maybe I didn’t really think, that it was just something for the future. Something that somehow came alive when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, but then sat there dormant. I’m not sure what I thought. Perhaps my spirit man was just hanging out, loitering around in my physical body, doing nothing. Waiting for eternity. I mean, come on, be honest, unless you’ve had any teaching on this, what else would you think?

But what if I was actually supposed to utilize this spirit man? What if I am actually told to protect this spirit man? Yes, I said protect. Why else would Paul tell us in Ephesians 6:11-16 to put on the whole armor of God? Now if you read this passage, it becomes quite clear that He’s not telling us to put on physical armor. No, he tells us quite plainly that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” So which body am I supposed to put this armor on? It has to be my spiritual body! But how can I put armor on a body that I’m not even aware of? And that is the problem, isn’t it? We are not aware of our spirit man, we have not learned to exercise our spiritual senses, and we have left our spirit man unprotected. I will not lie, but confess openly, that this passage in Ephesians has always puzzled me. I could never really figure out how I was to put this armor on.

Remember all those physical senses and how much they help us to communicate with the world around us? Now imagine if you were aware of your spirit man, and your spiritual senses were functioning as they should? Imagine how different your spiritual walk would be?

My mother died 14 years ago this past Spring. I remember the night before she died, as I was driving away from the hospital, I asked the Lord why He hadn’t taken her home yet. She was suffering greatly, and I couldn’t understand why she had to linger on. I will never forget what He said to me during that dark evening. He told me that when He had finished all the work on the cross that needed to be finished, the Father allowed Him to die. See John 19:30. He then proceeded to tell me that when my mother finished all the work that she needed to do, she too could die. Although I was perplexed, I trusted Him. The next day my brother who had been estranged from my mom for years came to her hospital room and they were reconciled. Within one hour of his leaving, she died. Her work was finished. Why am I sharing this? Because it was the ability to hear His voice and feel His comfort that got me through that dark time in my life. I could have been angry at the fact that she lingered, angry at God, but instead I was able to hear His voice so clearly that I felt His comforting presence and saw what He did in her and in my brother’s life.

I’ll give you another story, this time from the Bible that also speaks of our spirit man. In 2 Kings 6:8-23 we read about Elisha the prophet and his conversation with a fearful servant. They are surrounded by the Syrian army, and the servant asks Elisha what they should do. Elisha says to his servant “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha then prayed and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. Which eyes did God open in the servant? It certainly was not his physical eyes, because he had already seen the physical Syrian army. God opened his spiritual eyes! And I’m sure that the comfort he felt when he saws those horses and chariots of fire was amazing. Why did Elisha have such confidence in God? Because he could see in the spirit realm.

And that takes me back full circle to those mornings when I am distracted and find it hard to focus on the Lord. What if I am aware of the spirit realm around me? What if I knew, because I have exercised my spiritual senses, that Jesus is right there beside me? Would I still be bored with prayer? What if I knew there were angels all around me, protecting me, would I still be afraid? What if I knew that God has already won the battle, because I saw Him for who He really is, the Almighty! What if, when I walk into church on Sunday morning, because my sense of touch is functioning properly, I could feel His presence? What if my spiritual sense of taste was awake and when I read His word, it becomes alive in my mouth and I taste and see that the Lord is good? Oh my goodness.  I think our Christian walk would be so different if we could walk in the spirit, and not in the flesh.

But I want you to think about this for a moment. If you were missing even one of your physical senses, would life not be less enjoyable, even harder? Take that thought and apply it to your spiritual senses. If you can’t hear Him, see Him, feel Him, taste Him, or smell Him, is it any wonder that you are bored with prayer, looking at the time during worship, and thinking about lunch during the sermon?

So what do you do, now that you are aware that you have these senses, but you realize that you aren’t using them? First and foremost, if you have not received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you must repent and ask Him to forgive you for your sins. You do not want to activate your spiritual senses without being a Christian because there are many evil spirits out there who will be more than happy to lead you astray.

Once you are sure that you belong to the Lord, ask Him to activate your senses. Ask Him to open your spiritual eyes so that you can see into the spirit realm. Ask Him to give you ears that hear so that you can begin to hear His voice. Tell Him that you want to feel His presence when He is near; that you want Him to let you smell His sweet fragrance. Let Him know that you want to taste and see that His word is good. Once you have asked, realize that using your spiritual senses is not a logical, or left brain activity. It is a right brain activity. You must have faith that you have these senses and that He wants you to use them, and that He wants to reveal Himself to you through them. Faith is not a logical activity. It makes no sense. Your spiritual senses might not make sense to you either. But in order for you to grow up, to become mature, you must learn to exercise them. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

For me personally, becoming aware that I had them, was huge. I knew I had spiritual ears and that was probably my most developed sense. But it changed my life when I begin to see in the spirit and started using the other senses as well.  It was definitely a leap of faith for me. The enemy loves to come in and tell you that this is silly. That it is all just your imagination. But if you are still reading this, then I know you want more of God. Ask Him. He wants to give you more of Himself. But He is spirit and we must worship Him, and experience Him, in spirit and in truth. (See John 4:23-24)