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   MY PERSONAL VISION AND YOUR CHALLENGE



Copyright 1994 - 2011 Endtime Prophecy Net

Published On : May 25, 1998

Last Updated : January 3, 2009

A Shepherd's Responsibility, False Shepherds, Thieves
Robbers And Hirelings, The Profitless Shepherd, God's Gold,
Parable Of The Talents, Apple Saplings, The Barren Dead
Church, Fruit That Remains, God Gives The Increase, His
Vessels Of Clay, A Crown Of Life, What Will You Do?




Over the past several days, the Lord has been laying
something upon my heart which I feel is extremely important
for all of you to hear. As most of you know, the primary
reason I started this ministry is because I have an earnest
desire to feed the Lord's sheep. As Jesus said three times
to Peter shortly before His Ascension in the Gospel of John,
'Peter, lovest thou me? Feed my sheep.' It was because of
this incident, that Peter was later inspired to write the
following in his first Epistle:

"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the
oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for
filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;" (1 Peter 5:2)

As I explain in some of my other articles, such as 'The Book
Of Enoch: Truth or Heresy?', the Lord became extremely upset
with the shepherds of ancient Israel because they failed to
do this very thing. Instead of faithfully feeding their
flocks, they abused them and used them for their own profit
while the poor sheep starved. This was still happening at
the time of Christ. Consider what the Prophet Ezekiel wrote
in the thirty-fourth chapter of his book:

"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel,
prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto
the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do
feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill
them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock...As I live,
saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey,
and my flock became meat to every beast of the field,
because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds
search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and
fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word
of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against
the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand,
and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither
shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will
deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat
for them." (Ezekiel 34:2-3, 8-10)

Sadly, there are some leaders in the Christian church today
who do the very same thing. Exactly as Jesus warned in the
tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, these false shepherds
are thieves, robbers and hirelings who care not for the
Lord's sheep:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the
door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the
same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the
door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter
openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his
own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth
forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep
follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will
they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not
the voice of strangers...All that ever came before me are
thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am
the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and
shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not,
but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come
that they might have life, and that they might have it more
abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth
his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not
the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf
coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf
catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling
fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the
sheep." (John 10:1-5, 8-13)

Of course, I am not saying that all Christian leaders behave
in this manner. There are those who truly do love the Lord.
They are extremely sacrificial individuals who do their best
to feed their flocks with the knowledge which has been
entrusted to them; so I know that I am by no means alone in
this kind of ministry. However, my personal vision and
burden goes beyond simply feeding God's sheep. To know that
some of you are truly being fed spiritually by my articles
gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I also want all of
you to know that I am extremely thankful for all of the
inspiring words of encouragement and support which you have
sent my way. They have truly thrilled my heart. While I
truly appreciate every positive word that you send in, I am
really looking for something else in your messages. Allow me
to explain through the following very fitting example.

Consider a shepherd, native to the verdant mountains of
Switzerland, who lovingly toils day after day, week after
week, and month after month tending to his flocks. Because
of his excellent care as a faithful shepherd, his sheep are
protected from wolves and other natural enemies; and they
grow big and fat and full of fluffy wool as the months go
by. Imagine, however, if despite his tender care, his sheep
never mate in order to produce new lambs; or imagine if
shearing time arrives and those sheep refuse to be clipped
for their wool. After this has happened a few times, that
shepherd is going to begin wondering to himself 'What am I
even doing this for? I spend all of this time and energy
year after year caring for my flocks, yet these selfish
sheep have never given me any new lambs to expand the flock,
and they refuse to allow me to shear them.' If this
situation were allowed to continue for any prolonged period
of time, eventually the shepherd would have to retire from
the sheep herding business because all of his sheep would
eventually die of old age without having ever produced any
new generations of lambs.

Perhaps some of you have already seen the clear message in
this example. If the sheep are only coming to be fed for
themselves, but are not giving anything in return, not only
are they extremely selfish, but they are slowly but surely
bringing about the demise of their own herd. If those
foolish sheep just come bleating to the shepherd begging for
those special morsels they know he keeps hidden in his coat
pocket, but they don't give him any wool or any new lambs,
what good is it going to do them or the shepherd? If that
shepherd is not earning any kind of a profit from his
business, then he is better off getting rid of it and doing
something else.

At this point, some of you may possibly be thinking to
yourselves, 'Here it comes! I knew it all along! All of this
talk of doing the Lord's work for free was just a clever
scheme to get us hooked on his articles. Now that he has got
our interest, it is time for payday! Now he is going to tell
us that we need a paid subscription in order to continue
receiving his wonderful articles! He is just like all the
rest of those money-minded Bible hucksters!' Well, I will be
absolutely honest with you; yes, I most certainly do want
something from you; but it isn't exactly what you think. No,
I don't want your money, unless of course you are willing to
send it to me in an unmarked envelope so I can't possibly
return it to you! <grin>

Let's return to the wonderful comments some of you have been
sending to me. Exactly what is it that you think I am
looking for when I read them? Do you really think that it is
just your praise so that I can become lifted up in my pride?
Do you think that it is just so that I can boast to others
and show them how spiritual I am? God forbid! As the Apostle
Paul wrote:

"And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth
nothing yet as he ought to know." (1 Corinthians 8:2)

"For if a man think himself to be something, when he is
nothing, he deceiveth himself." (Galatians 6:3)

The answer is really quite simple. Aside from the fact that
I am looking to see if you are truly being fed by my work, I
am also looking to see what you personally are doing with
the knowledge and precious jewels that you are discovering
within my writings. The Bible tells us that God's Word is
indeed like a hidden treasure. In fact it is even more
precious than gold and silver. Consider the following
verses:

"The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of
gold and silver." (Psalms 119:72)

"Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is
instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man
that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his
treasure things new and old." (Matthew 13:52)

So tell me then; exactly what are you doing with all of that
'Celestial Gold' I have been mining for you? Are you just
selfishly hoarding it for yourself; or are you sharing it
with others like the wise servants who gained more talents
for their Master in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel
of Matthew?:

"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far
country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto
them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to
another two, and to another one; to every man according to
his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then
he that had received the five talents went and traded with
the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he
that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that
had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his
lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants
cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received
five talents came and brought other five talents, saying,
Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have
gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto
him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast
been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over
many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also
that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou
deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two
other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well
done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful
over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things:
enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had
received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee
that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown,
and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid,
and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou
hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him,
Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap
where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou
oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers,
and then at my coming I should have received mine own with
usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto
him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath
shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him
that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness:
there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
(Matthew 25:14-30)

If there is one thing I can definitely see from some of your
wonderful messsages, it is that this ministry is indeed
bearing positive fruit for the glory of the Kingdom of God;
however, allow me to remind you that an apple tree doesn't
grow apples just for the sake of growing fruit. There is
supposed to be an end result; and that end result is that
some of those apples will ripen, fall to the ground and rot,
and then hopefully, some of their seeds will sprout and
produce new young saplings. Eventually those young trees
will produce fruit of their own, and thus the process will
continue. This is precisely what Jesus meant by such verses
as the following:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall
into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it
bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24)

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained
you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your
fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the
Father in my name, he may give it you." (John 15:16)

The key phrase there, as I have pointed out before, is 'your
fruit should remain'. If all you are doing is taking my
articles, reading them, and temporarily being inspired and
fed by them, then you have missed the mark. That is exactly
what a lot of religionists do when they go to church. They
do their duty by attending services every Saturday or Sunday
week after week. They get all inspired for a few minutes
while listening to the pastor's sermon; but then they go
home and live their lives exactly the same as they always
have. They don't bear any fruit for the Kingdom of God
whatsoever. Do you know what Jesus says regarding such
churches which bear absolutely no spiritual fruit? Take a
look at this:

"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These
things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the
seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that
thou livest, and art dead." (Revelation 3:1)

"Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go
thou and preach the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:60)

This is not what my vision is about in the least. My goal is
to produce fruit that remains which will then mature, ripen,
fall to the ground, rot, and release seeds which will then
produce more fruit; and so the process continues. Of course,
the fruit of a Christian is simply another Christian. This
is precisely what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote the
following to his beloved son Timothy:

"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many
witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall
be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2)

So you see then, the purpose of my articles, that is, my
seeds, is to produce new fruit in your life. When you accept
the Word I have shared with you, the seed of faith sprouts
in your heart; or perhaps someone else has already planted
the seed of faith in your heart but you haven't tended to it
properly, so its growth has been stunted. In that case, my
articles serve to water that seed, and to provide it with
all of the right nutrients so that it will grow properly. It
doesn't really matter who does the actual planting and the
watering; for as Paul wrote, in the end, it is only God who
can give the increase:

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom
ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have
planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then
neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that
watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that
planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall
receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we
are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye
are God's building. According to the grace of God which is
given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the
foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man
take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation
can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
(1 Corinthians 3:5-11)

We see the very same thing happening in the Book of Acts
where we are told that God is the one who can give the
increase:

"Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And
the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
(Acts 2:47)

Of course, in order to win new souls to His Kingdom, the
Lord cannot send His Angelic Messengers to do the job for
Him. Most people would not fare too well if they had an
encounter with such a majestic being; thus, the Lord has had
to rely upon us, His vessels of clay, to get the job done
for Him. If we truly love the Lord, then we will obey His
command to 'Go into all the world to preach the Gospel to
every creature'. If we are faithful to do this, then we will
be eternally blessed with rewards in Heaven. Consider the
following verses:

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that
winneth souls is wise." (Proverbs 11:30)

"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the
firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the
stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3)

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth
and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and
steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where
neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not
break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there
will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

Thus is my personal vision for this ministry. Through
investing my time and my energy in you, my readers, I am
planting seeds of faith which will hopefully produce a
future crop. In fact, it is quite possible that some of you
will be jewels in my crown if you go on to produce even
more fruit for His Kingdom. Those people you win, or
encourage to serve the Lord will then become jewels in your
crown as well. Consider the following exciting verses:

"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall
give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them
also that love his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:8)

"And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive
a crown of glory that fadeth not away." (1 Peter 5:4)

This is my personal vision; and it is also your challenge.
With these inspiring thoughts, I am going to bring this
special message to a close. If you are interested in reading
additional information on this topic, I encourage you to
read such articles as 'The Parable Of The Sower: Salvation
And Service', and 'Endtime Witnessing: Winning The Sheep And
Waging The Warfare!'. God bless you! I pray that this
article has been an inspiration and a blessing to many.


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