"Healing for America" Project
Story by Debra Matthews
Welcome! Here's another message in the "Healing for America" project. It's about God's love for pastors and His challenge to all churches and pastors to be ready for the revival He's getting ready to pour out throughout this world.
God's Loving Challenge to Pastors
Copyright © 2018 by Debra K. Matthews. All rights reserved
Good pastors have always had a special place in God's heart. Look how many shepherds God does special things with, such as Moses, whom God called to lead His people out of bondage, and David, the Shepherd, who brought down the giant Goliath and later became king of Israel. God communed with these two great men who not only started with physical sheep, but went on to shepherd the people whom God looked upon as His flocks.
God's own Son, Jesus, was called the great shepherd who gives his life for the sheep. God's love and care for the 'sheep' is so great, there are stern warnings in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, where God warns the shepherds of Israel to feed the sheep, look for the lost that have been driven away, and to heal them. Looking forward to a time when the shepherds needed to come back to the full job God requires of them, the Lord promised that one day:
"I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." (Jeremiah 3:15)
You might be wondering why God would use a minister like me to write to pastors. "Who do you think you are?", you might ask.
God can use anyone with a heart open to Him. Years ago, developing curriculum and teaching in Bible College - and along the way since - God has brought young ministers to me whose hearts longed to be good pastors. I'm not sure why they were drawn to me. Sometimes I'll just be talking to someone and it turns out they are a pastor, or learning about the ministry. When their hearts are open, I share a vision God gave me about the heart of the shepherd.
The vision started while God literally poured his heart into mine one night. I talk about it in detail in another story. I was following the example of David, how the Bible says he would go "sit before the Lord" and commune with Him, probably as he had done as a young shepherd boy alone at night with the sheep in the wilderness.
After all the staff had left the church this one particular night, I turned out all the lights so no one would come knock on the doors. Then, when my eyes had adjusted to the darkness dimly lit by green exit lights, I went and sat on the floor in front of the pulpit. I didn't pray for anything, I just worshipped until I felt the gentle presence of God. Then I asked Him something that had been on my heart for a long time -- based on how much I saw in the Bible that God loved His people, calling them sheep of His pasture, and how much He loved various people in the Bible who interceded and cared for God's people.
I very softly, like a child expecting something wondrous, asked the Lord, "Father, show me the heart of the Shepherd." I won't describe here what I saw, but I can tell you that I have never felt the magnitude of the love that God poured into my heart as He showed me the vision. I did not know that such a depth of love existed, and it not only has to do with the shepherd, but with the sheep, and it includes the message that God has for pastors today.
God is getting ready to pour out the greatest revival that history has ever seen. You can see part of what he recently showed me about how the revival fire is sort of smoldering, ready to burst forth all over the world in this story. The problem is, many of the churches are not yet ready to handle the revival in the depth God wants to pour it out.
Some people see Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 34 as certain judgment on the shepherds. However, I am an intercessor, and God has taught me over the years through Scripture that every time the wayward hearts and deeds of people are opening the door to judgment, He is looking for someone to stand in the gap for them so the judgment doesn't come. Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel - four men greatly loved of God - were intercessors whom God used much.
So, here, and in my story "Adjustment vs. Judgment", I'm looking at God's desire to see the shepherds be ready for the revival. Every pastor is needed, and God stands ready to help us get ready for the revival.
Jesus looked with great compassion on the thousands who left the cities and came to hear him teach in the wilderness. In one instance, in Mark 6:33-44, it is recorded they stayed there for three days, not even going back into town for regular food! They came to the great shepherd and he fed them both spiritually and physically. Jesus called them 'sheep without a shepherd' because they had no one teaching them of the love and compassion of the Father.
To make a long story short, part of the burden God put on my heart the night of the vision was for pastors who are ready to take care of the sheep. The Father's heart is longing for the revival to burst forth and souls hanging in the balance to come into the kingdom. There are many who are speaking of God judging the churches and the pastors, but God is not willing for any to perish. His heart is ever ready to forgive, heal and equip. The decision is entirely up to each of us whether we will respond or not.
I am not going to say, "Thus sayeth the Lord to the pastors". All that I am going to say is that the same gentle calling I feel flowing in my heart from God for the pastors is available to all pastors. Every time in Revelation the Lord speaks against something one of the seven churches is doing, He also tells them how to turn from it. God loves you and wants very much for you to have the same heart for the sheep as He has. He wants you to be part of the amazing revival that is coming.
Is your congregation sick? Are they struggling? Do things seem not quite right in your ministry as a pastor? God wants shepherds who feed His sheep with knowledge from the Word, or if you're not a teacher, then have good teachers in your church to help balance out your ministry as well. May I challenge you to read prayerfully through these scriptures about shepherds - perhaps for several days in a row? Yes, the ones in Jeremiah and Ezekiel refer to the shepherds of Israel, but David was a shepherd of Israel as well, and God still speaks of David's shepherdship in His Son Jesus for all nations for all eternity.
If you come to God with a cry that says, "Give me the heart of the shepherd", and you feel something stirring inside you, open your heart and let Him teach you. The heart of the shepherd is dear to the Father, and you can see in these passages how much the sheep need a good shepherd. God bless you greatly as you seek to join your heart with His.
Some of the shepherd scriptures:
All of Timothy
Jeremiah 3:15; 23:1-4
Mark 6:34 John 10:1-29
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