Tag Archives: Matthew

Discerning the Spirits ~ 1

Standard

good-and-evil

Ever since I learned in the Bible that during the end times Satan will use anything and anyone to sway believers to follow him, I’ve wondered how that might happen.

False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.  ~ Matthew 24:24

“Even the elect.”  That is us, Christ Follower.

It chills me to my bones.

As a born-again Christian I consider myself one of the “elect” [typically any gentile or Jew who believes in Jesus (Yahweh) as the Messiah].  I ‘grew up in the church’ (as they say) but as I got older I still attended Psychic Fairs with friends in Connecticut … having fun whilst paying good money to people we weren’t sure had any true skills.  It was a lark but we loved it and only sometimes thought there might be some validity in what the seer said to us.

Yet, when I got to college in Colorado, I found myself in one of the New Age meccas of the US and slowly began to explore this strange world.  I experimented with much of the New Age philosophies and found I enjoyed the use of and excelled in creative visualization, tarot card reading, eastern and western astrology, throwing runes, the I-Ching, meditation, and even feng shui; which is not technically New Age but an ancient Chinese system of thought connecting the placement of objects to affect the energy (chi) of the universe.

When Shirley MacLaine’s book Out on a Limb was published in 1983 I devoured it like it was candy and tried (unsuccessfully) to astral project.  I stopped before too long because I became concerned that my soul might separate from my body.

As time went on I melded the New Age ideas I enjoyed with Native American beliefs I was learning, and my old friend, Christianity – rolling it all up into a great gooey ball of gobbledygook that served me just fine.  Satisfied me.  Played right into my hand.  I didn’t have a god in charge of me – I was in charge and had supporting players … God, the universe, my spirit animal totem, the sun, moon, winds, etc.

What some may not know about New Age, is that its practitioners will dip into any theology, even the Bible, when it suits their purpose.  No world religion or spiritual practice is untouchable.  They take Scripture out of context and apply it to any situation they need … which is probably one reason why I’m now such a stickler for using the Word as it is intended by God.

In using scripture, for a New-Ager’s purpose, most of the time a word or two will be missing from the verse (or the whole verse might not be utilized) in order to make it more powerful for their use.  One of the most often used verses is:

He [the Lord] says, “Be still, and know that I am God …” ~ Psalm 46:10a (NIV)

The context of this verse is God talking to nations who like to make war and the Holmen Christian Standard Bible actually translates it to: “Stop your fighting-and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” ~ Psalm 46:10 HCSB)

However, when you take the first half of this verse out of context it becomes just words that are especially good when used as a chant during meditation.

Be still and know that I am God.

You see, New Agers believe that God is within every one of us.  Not like the Holy Spirit residing within Christians, but that god is a universal life-force that anyone can call on.  In using this verse New Agers cut off the first few words (they state that God is talking) and intone “Be still and know that I am God.”  The “be still” part draws them into meditation … be still, be still, be still … and then the whammy – “Know that I am God.”  “Know that I am God.”  “Know that I am God.”

Do you catch what they are saying to themselves?

“I AM GOD.”

Once I gave my life fully to Christ and denounced all the other beliefs, I’ve walked the Christian road becoming stronger and stronger in the Lord.  Many of my friends and other Christians are on the same course – striving to know God, to surrender daily, to walk in His will.  Because I know the deep love and commitment I have for Jesus, I’m bewildered that Satan could sway me or any one of my friends.  Preposterous!  It couldn’t be done.

Or could it?

It may already be happening.

When I was diagnosed with cancer many friends and family gave me books to help pass the time and lift my spirits.  Some books were secular and some books purportedly Christian and all givers were very well-meaning.  I love and appreciate anyone who took the time to tell me they were thinking of, praying for, or loving me and/or my parents.  Community coming together to aid in the care of the sick utterly warmed my heart and gave me immeasurable strength.  I’ve said on numerous occasions during my recovery that I actually felt prayers.  They curled around me like a soft warm blanket of love and gave me a reassuring sense of peace.  Never doubt the power of prayer!  But now I’m headed down a rabbit hole on prayer so I’ll stop now and see you on Wednesday.

In the next post I’ll talk about a book that has wormed it’s way into many Christian homes and is the basis for this series of posts.  Afterward, some tips to grow your discernment. There has never been such a time to be strong, dear Christian.  There is so much I want – need – to say about growing in your discernment and being able to accurately discern the spirits that are getting stronger and more insistent as the Lord tarries.

I hope I’ll see you then,

Felecia

What is Your Cross to Bear?

Standard
What is Your Cross to Bear?

Yes! We return to Kay and David Arthur’s bible study after an extended vacation where we visited Prayer Point and Peace Place. Thanks for letting me wander!

Today we’ll tackle locating our personal cross (or crosses).

Matthew recorded Jesus saying,

“And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”

~ Matthew 10:38

But what does that mean?  Are we to literally pick up a cross and carry it?  Obviously, no.  But Jesus is asking for His followers to take up their cross for the death march and be prepared to die – literally and figuratively.

Sadly, with what’s been occurring here in the United States and around the world, we Christians have had a chance to actually ponder, ‘Would I die for Christ?’  If a gunman in the classroom asks me if I’m Christian and tells me that if I say yes I should be prepared to meet Jesus … would I say yes?  If I got ambushed by a member of ISIS and he asked me to deny Christ and bow to Allah or die, what would I do?

At no other time in my life have I had to actually think about my answer to these questions or even make these decisions.  Isn’t that interesting?  One might ask – why does God allow these things to happen?  But what if it’s just another clue that we’re solidly in the end of times.  It’s almost as if God is inspecting us – how steadfast is our belief – how strong our faith?  Will we be a martyr for the Kingdom?  Who is a true follower and who is not?  The path through the gate gets narrower and narrower, doesn’t it?  Because when these awful things happen and Christians stand around the watercooler, I keep hearing the phrase, “I’d like to think I’d …” say yes or no depending upon the situation.

Oh my friends, don’t wobble.  Choose now to die for Christ.  We have no knowledge of what tomorrow will bring.

But the Arthur’s are not asking about dying a literal death for Christ in this Bible study.  They most likely don’t venture down that path because my edition was published in 2009 long before ISIS gained international notoriety in 2014 with their takeover of Mosul (even though they’d been in existence at that time for nearly a decade 1).  No.  The Arthur’s are examining our ability to figuratively die for Christ.  Die on a daily basis.  Die to self.  It wasn’t long ago that I heard two important ideas (1) we need to preach the gospel to ourselves on a daily basis, and (2) we need to surrender on a daily basis.  Both are great advice since we’ve proven to ourselves how easily we forget!

In order to give us the ultimate role model of dying to Christ on a daily basis, we take a look at the Apostle Paul.  Next to Jesus, Paul is my second stop for an autograph when I get to Heaven.  He is such a magnificent soldier for Christ.  In 2 Corinthians 11:23-31, Paul outlines the life he’s led in living for Christ.  Please take a moment to read it this weekend and marvel about how he could be so spiritually strong.  It is gut wrenching.   The only way he could have endured was if God had sustained him.  Which one of us wouldn’t have been eager at any point during his trials to call it quits?  But Paul, having come in contact with the living Messiah, wanted to please God and knew he could count on God for strength until the end.  Truly overwhelming.

Further, in 2 Corinthians 6:3 we see that Paul tried to avoid saying or doing anything that would cause offense or be a discredit to the ministry:

“We give no opportunity for stumbling to anyone, so that the ministry will not be blamed.”

Can I say I take the same great care in my speech and behavior?  Sadly, no.  The pages convict me and remind me of a recent incident.

I was on a road trip with my family.  It started out well enough but with hot heads breeding with stubbornness (and producing me) a pleasant conversation had dissolved into muck and mire.  I was trying desperately to not let a certain family member goad me into an argument and had already let a few choice tidbits escape through my clenched lips.  In an attempt to stop the conversation from a further downward spiral I made myself busy shooting arrow prayers to God saying, “Help me keep silent, Lord, help me allow it to roll off my back,” and thought I was winning the fight against my flesh until we pulled over into a gas station.  I got out to pump gas and realized too late that I had parked at a Full Service pump.  Still though, I was hoping to just be able to pump without an issue.

I peered through the dirty station windows and could see my father speaking with a man who was gesturing wildly and who kept looking out the window pointing and glaring at me.  I started getting agitated. If he’d just turn the pump on I could be done and out of there in a matter of minutes.  Why I didn’t just pack up and move to another pump I’ll never know, but if the scene hadn’t played out the way it did, I would have missed a very valuable lesson.

Still watching the scene inside, the man finally pushed past my father and bolted out the door screaming at me.  I lost it.  All the clenched teeth in the world couldn’t keep a half-hour’s pent up anger sprinkled with new frustration from spilling out and covering the station manager with a torrent of abrasive speech.  Eventually I got into my car and pulled it around to another pump.

So of course that’s not the end of the story.  But this post has grown quite long and it’s best if we wait until Monday for the conclusion and how I’m trying to handle the crosses in my life.  In the meantime, read that passage about Paul – you are sure to gain an even deeper appreciation for this amazing apostle from Tarsus.

Until Monday my friends.  Thank you and have a great weekend!

1 http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/how-isis-started-syria-iraq/412042/

Bible Study ~ The Trinity

Standard
Bible Study ~ The Trinity

Days Two, Three, and Four of the bible study discuss the Trinity.  I mentioned Wednesday that we would discuss God’s attributes today, but I came across some other items that I want to discuss first.

There is a person in my life who doesn’t consider Jesus God.  Because he calls himself a Christian, I didn’t realize this until he mentioned after church one day that he didn’t like a song we sang in which we called Jesus, God.  I was flabbergasted to hear that he believes Jesus is the Son of God and the Father is completely distinct.  Literally speechless … my mouth might have even been gaping open.  What a teaching moment!  Actually, I did teach, or at least tried to, but it didn’t work out so well.  Sometime later, when I was listening to Moody Radio, I heard a pastor say that people who didn’t understand this core concept of Christianity should read the book of John because in it Jesus calls himself God several times.  I was kicking myself.  I’d told him to reread the bible but if I’d thought about it (and given the Holy Spirit a chance to speak) I could have given him better direction.  Especially since he also mentioned that he only believes what Jesus says in the bible (but that’s a topic for another day!).

In reading several of the scriptures pulled out by the study, John 10:30 must be especially jarring for those who don’t see the connection:  “I and the Father are one.”  Really can’t misread that sentence.

Isn’t funny how Jesus called himself God over and over and no one either (1) believed him or (2) even heard him?  It really wasn’t until He asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15) where Peter answers, “You’re the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” (v.16) the first time that this revelation is voiced publicly.  Jesus tells the disciples then that the only reason Peter knew the truth was because the Father allowed it to be revealed to him.  Why doesn’t God allow this truth to be revealed to everyone?  The same can be said for the Holy Spirit, but we’ll get to Him next.  I stop in the middle of the study and thank God that He has revealed this truth to me and pray that He will reveal it to my friend as well.

So if it’s hard to believe that Jesus is God, how does that fare for the Holy Spirit?  Just who is this guy anyway?

Well the most amazing thing I learned during the third day of the bible study is … wait a second … do you ever come across a verse and swear you’ve never seen it before?  I know for a fact I’ve read John and I’m willing to bet I’ve even read it several times; yet here in the study is a verse I swear I’ve never read.  It was so foreign to me that I even looked it up in several different versions trying to fathom how I’d missed it.  Yet in each version there it sat plain as day.  The verse is in John 14 where Jesus is talking to the disciples about having to leave soon.  You know they’re reeling.  It seems they’ve just hit their stride and their rabbi is now talking about his death – the end of it all.  In verse 16 Jesus talks about how he will ask the Father to send another Helper to be with the disciples forever.  I can appreciate that they’re not really hearing this.  But then, just as he’s discussing the Holy Spirit coming, we hit the bit that sent me running for different translations, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

I will come to you … meaning I am the Holy Spirit.

Of course, I know that we worship a triune God, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all one – but I can’t believe I’ve missed that verse my entire life.  Jesus stating in no uncertain terms that He is the Spirit.

As I let this verse roll off my tongue over and over again, I grasp that I’ve been guilty of treating the Holy Spirit and Jesus as different entities.  Even though my head knows they’re one in the same with the Father, my heart and my mouth have probably prayed differently to them.  I make a pact with myself and God to not let that happen again.

We’ll talk more about God’s attributes on Monday and what I learned in the study which may spark a hot debate.

Have a wonderful weekend!