Friday, 27 August 2010

Lord, Electrify the Fence!

Lord, Electrify the Fence!

"Who here qualifies for the job of overseeing...? A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day. Someone the Master can drop in on unannounced and always find him doing his job...”
(Matt 24:45-46 The Message)

In our opening scripture Jesus was talking here about the faithful and wise “servant-ruler” or as the Amplified version says the, “faithful, thoughtful, and wise servant.” We can discover through reading this scripture that “faithfulness” is a huge requirement of the Lord. Success can often come through aggression and abuse – but Christ is looking for us to succeed through “faithfulness.”

This story about the “servant-ruler” applies to us all considering the fact that although we are all meant to “rule” and “reign” with Christ, but we are also meant to “serve.” So this scripture does not just apply to those in leadership! In fact every believer has responsibilities within the Body of Christ and within God’s Kingdom; firstly towards God and then towards each another. Responsibilities that we must never “shirk” or “despise.” We must be faithful.

Looking at this unfaithful servant-ruler in Matthew chapter 24 we can see that he began “calculating” that his master was not coming back and selfishly took what he could from the situation; including eventually beating his fellow servants and drinking with the drunkards. Verse 51 tells us of the “consequence” of such unfaithfulness; where Jesus Himself warns that when the master finally returns, this unfaithful servant-ruler would be cut in two! Now that’s a sober reality!

If we proceed with this theme and read 1 Peter 5: 1-4 we find a further description of what God is looking for in a faithful servant-ruler, “I WARN and counsel the elders among you (the pastors and spiritual guides of the church) as a fellow elder and as an eyewitness [called to testify] of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a sharer in the glory (the honor and splendor) that is to be revealed (disclosed, unfolded): Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits [belonging to the office], but eagerly and cheerfully; Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation). And [then] when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will win the conqueror's crown of glory (1 Peter 5:1-5 AMP).

Although lengthy the Amplified is a necessary read nonetheless as it spells out the first requirement for any such servant-ruler – “faithfulness.” God is not looking for success in the way that the world comprehends it. Instead success - in God’s economy of things - is faithfully carrying out the duty that He assigned for each of us to fulfil - individually and corporately.

Besides the “consequences” of unfaithfulness there are always “rewards” for faithfulness. Jesus Himself foretold this by saying, “A God-blessed man or woman, I tell you. It won't be long before the Master will put this person in charge of the whole operation!” (Matt 24: 46-47 The Message) In the Young’s Literal Translation it says; “...verily I say to you, that over all his substance he will set him.”

Now there is another side to this coin, as there always is; the first being “reward” and the second being “judgment.” In his book, Prophetic Guide for the End Times, the late Derek Prince wrote; “Faithfulness in this life leads to promotion in the next... The way we conduct ourselves in this world will determine what we will be for eternity. There is no substitute for faithfulness.”

As we continue to look at Christ’s return and the consequences of His coming on believers, we must not only see Him as Saviour but also as “Judge.” In fact God’s appointed Judge. Both Romans 14 and 2 Corinthians 5 describes the judgment seat of Christ and how He will judge the Church. During which process only two categories exist: good or evil. Derek Prince better articulates this by saying, “We in the church have invented a third category: not good, but not evil either. In God’s view that category does not exist. If you are not good you are evil.”

This is very pointed but true! Without any shadow of doubt there are going to be consequences to the Lord’s return and today there are many so called Christians who don’t realise that they are sitting on a literal time bomb! Jesus’ intention has always been to “return” which means the year of “Jubilee” and the year of God’s favour will finally come to an end. We have as long as it takes, for Him to return, then no longer.

Even though Jesus’ own disciples thought that He would return in their own day, including every successive generation after that, the signs of the times do indicate that His return is more “imminent” than ever before. Does this mean those who are still in the valley of decision about their commitment to the Lord are living on borrowed time? Yes, it could be said like that!

In the reality of Church today, sadly there are too many “fence-sitters!” who straddle the fence because they won’t “commit” but still want to be considered “believers.” They want all the fringe-benefits that true believers enjoy, without the cost of commitment. They want the trophy without the effort; the glory without the pain and wear the victors crown without any endurance or staying power! (It takes truck-loads of perseverance, diligence and determination to truly serve the Lord, because there are too many opportunities to quit!)

In any case those who find themselves sitting on the proverbial fence will also find themselves in a very tight spot spiritually speaking! Derek Prince phrases it this way, “When the Holy Spirit comes to the Church... one of the first things that He does is to electrify the fence!” I love that! Needless to say, it is for this precise reason that so many folks (entire churches in fact!) don’t welcome the Holy Spirit. Instead they cherish their comfort zone; their suspended position that dangles between “neutrality” and “half-heartedness!”

The evil servant-ruler who lost the vision of his master’s return also lost his restraint! His behaviour altered drastically. This is true for any church. If the reality of Christ’s return is not proclaimed, and the people lose sight of His coming – the ultimate standards of holiness are lost forever. God’s people need to live in holiness and to walk with the Spirit of God’s Holiness (the Holy Spirit) and for this they need a clear sight of His return. Just like the wicked servant, the alternative for us is to be led astray of our “own” lusts and degraded by our own behaviour (see James 1:14). Instead we must keep His “coming” in our sights.

Consider this, according to chapter 24, when the master does finally return “unannounced,” and the servant is not ready for him, he will be cut in two! The master presented here of course, is Jesus. But is He truly capable of cutting someone in two? Yes! We better believe it... for as “thorough and diligent” as Jesus is to save us, He is just as “thorough and faithful” to judge us! If we do not commit to Him as our Saviour, we will certainly encounter Him as Judge.

I leave you with this final thought. In Matthew 13:42 it talks about “tares” of wheat in the field – this is referring to people. Tares look exactly like wheat - but are sterile (barren) never “producing” anything! People can be like this. They go to church their whole lives; looking like all the other believers but never truly “entering-in” for themselves. They live so close, right in the midst of it all, but never partake and never truly commit. For them, scripture tells us that there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” simply because they were “so-near-and-yet-so-far.”

To close – how should we remedy this? Set up “fence-sitters-anonymous” or as Pastors and Leaders allow the Holy Spirit to “electrify the fence?!” It’s certainly going to get exciting, one way or another! No one can be neutral, not ever. There are only two categories that exist: good or evil (life or death) and “everyone” must choose! (See Deuteronomy 30:19).

Father forgive any fence-sitting on my part. It’s easy to think “not me!” yet be surprised when the Holy Spirit points out those areas where I have been “straddling” myself. I want to admit those areas and move on. You are faithful and just. I want to encounter your mercy and grace; not to resist it. Move in my life; show me those areas I still fail to properly commit myself; remaining half-hearted. Move me and bring me to that weighty place of true commitment. Amen.

Today I AM committed 100% I fear nothing. I hold nothing back. I refuse to put my hand to the plough and turn back. I have counted the cost and seen the value of true commitment. I am no longer a fence-sitter - in “any” area of my life. I allow God to electrify any fence He finds. I refuse to struggle with half-heartedness that reaches for the “mixture.” Instead I AM single-minded and I certainly choose “only” Life. Hallelujah!


Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2010 © Alan Pateman Ministries


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