Tag Archives: Word

Discerning the Spirits ~ 2

Standard

devotionals

Part One of this post can be found here.

You’ll notice in Part One that I called some of the books I received ‘purportedly’ Christian.  Many were absolutely Christian, drawing from Scripture to impart strength and encouragement.  Yet there were others that at first glance were going to convey a biblical message but seldom did.  It’s in this manner that I believe Satan will sway the elect from God’s kingdom … at least one of his tools.

Those books spoke of Jesus and healing but only dappled in scripture.  I use a small ‘s’ because the authors had so watered-down or poorly interpreted the true Word of God that it was almost unrecognizable.  There was only one of those books that I actually appreciated – not because of what it stated – but because the author, a Reverend Capps, used disclaimers throughout his work.  He fully informed the reader that he was rephrasing and summarizing Scripture and that if the reader wanted to know the true Word, they should look up the listed references.  Hey, at least he was honest and didn’t try to make a pseudo-Christian book look legit.

There have only been a few books that I’ve come across in my life that were worse.  If you’ve read me for a while, you’ve grown accustomed with my gift of Discernment.  Over the years, it has only gotten stronger and when I begin to read a book or hear a message that isn’t authentic or that might be from an adversarial spirit my spiritual gifting kicks into high gear.  I’ll either turn off the message, get away from the person, or close the book and throw it away and we’ll end this series by talking about ways to increase your ability to discern.

But the book that led me to write these posts is an especially good example of our adversary using a pseudo-Christian platform to sway followers.  I was thinking about this devotional along with the other books I’d received that were either watered down Christianity or maybe not Christian at all.

Why is it that we (Christians) turn to the nonessential reading material to soothe our worries, fears, and anxieties and don’t just open and read the Bible?  Honestly, isn’t that why God gave it to us?

When the Samaritan Women at Jacob’s Well doesn’t quite understand Jesus’ offer …

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again – ever!” (John 4:13-14a)

she asked Him to give her the water He speaks of so she won’t have to keep coming to the well to draw water; she’s looking for Jesus to make her life easier, more convenient. (John 4:15)

She didn’t initially realize that He, His Spirit, and His Word is His life-giving water.

Like this woman, we want the convenience.  When I was walking away from God I conveniently made up my own religion – for convenience.  It suited me perfectly.  I still carted my Bible around but was no longer “in it.”  But through the years I’ve met people who choose to read a devotional instead of the Bible and others who don’t read the Bible or any Christian literature at all.  Every decision is an act to give ourselves a convenience.

The fact is – we don’t need devotionals.  We don’t need anything other than Jesus – His Spirit and His Word.  I’ll never forget the story of the man who planted over 500 churches in India.  A pastor from the States went to find out what kind of teaching material the man was using to grow and sustain these Christians.  The man was confused by the question. “What material?”  He asked.  “We read the Bible and do what it says.”

How many of us read devotionals alongside the Bible?  I do and am willing to bet that most of you do too.  Please know that in no way am I damning devotional material.  Devotionals make me think in different ways about the Scriptures (and some of my favorites are in the picture above).  The Holy Spirit may use them to convict me of a sin, or Jesus might use them to get me to read the referenced scripture so He can go in deep and really teach me something.  That’s actually one of my favorite uses of devotionals – to open up my heart and head to learn something new from my Savior.

Next up:  I’ll discuss the devotional that may be on everyone’s bookshelf, but because of my background in New Age philosophies, shakes me to my spiritual core.

See you then.

Felecia

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

Bible Study ~ Stronger Through the Word

Standard
Bible Study ~ Stronger Through the Word

We hear again today from David Arthur.  He relays a wonderful story about a man he met who has planted thousands of churches across India.  David had been excited to meet the man particularly because he wanted to know what curriculum the man was using to disciple all these people.  When asked, the gentleman was confused by the question.

“What materials?” he asked David. “We simply start in the book of Matthew – just reading and doing what it says.”

How simple.  We don’t need reams of studies and piles of curriculum.  We need to read the word and obey it.  Sounds a little familiar no?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

~ James 1:22

When I was a new Christian I didn’t receive any dedicated discipleship at the church I was attending.  I also backslid pretty quickly and blamed my church for it at the time.  Here I was a brand new Christian … now what?  What do I do now?  But you know what?  I owned a Bible. I have no one to blame but myself for not picking it up, and as the man from India said, “Start in Matthew and read and do what it says.”

I do find it interesting however, that because of that experience I developed a real passion for the discipleship ministry.  I am always hoping to help others from falling off the cliff like I did.  Because when you backslide you develop very guilty feelings.  You know you’ve walked away from God and back into your old life and you wonder if God’s too mad at you to accept you back into the family.  New Christians (and non-believers) are too naïve at that point to comprehend that God will never leave you.  Period.  End of story.

But wait.  Might not a portion of that be true … or at least feel true?  Each time we sin without repenting, we move ourselves farther from God.  The widening gap allows the enemy of our souls to slip in and isolate us further.  We stop reading His word due to guilt or shame and we shut off the main conduit He has to speak to us.  Have you, like me, ever felt far from God?

But guess who moved?  It wasn’t God.

One of the participants in a small group I was leading was having a hard “season” (as we say in Christianeze).  Nothing was going right for her, at least nothing that she wanted or expected was happening in her favor.  She’d been a Christian for a couple of years and as I talked with her I discovered that she was pushing against everything – and I mean everything – that was happening in her life.  I asked, “Have you been praying?  What does God say?”

There comes a time when you have to take stock of your life and ask God, “What is up?”  I find that when my wheels are spinning and ‘nothing is going right’ it’s usually one of two reasons (1) I’m walking in God’s will and the enemy is trying to thwart me, or (2) I’m trying to do my own thing and bucking against God.  There is no secret to determining which it is.  In some cases it might even be a little of both.  The first thing I do is stop, drop, and roll.  Oh no wait, that’s when I’m on fire.  The first thing I do is stop spinning and ask God what is going on.  I don’t make any more moves until I hear an answer.  In the meantime and just to be sure there is only one influence in my life I will ask Him to help me control my flesh (quiet my mind and put the kibosh on my wants and desires) and rebuke Satan by removing his influence from me.

I waited for an answer from the girl whose life seemed to be falling apart.  She just looked at me with sad eyes so I backed up and asked, “Do you read your Bible?”

“No,” was the unfortunate answer.  “I can’t concentrate long enough to get anything from it.”

I sighed … probably literally.  Not one of us is going to hear from God if we are not in His word … and hopefully on a daily basis.  If you’re not reading your bible daily I urge you to work toward making that a habit.  It’ll take time but I guarantee you, as soon as our Lord starts speaking to you through the pages, you’ll crave His voice and that will make it easier.  We must remember that God’s word is alive.  It’s really the only way to begin to communicate with Him.  Read it, meditate on it, and obey it.

David Kay gives us an important lesson as he reminds us of the importance of God’s Word.  In the second letter to Timothy, Paul knows that his time is nearing an end.  Everything he writes to Timothy in this letter is going to be the most important information that he could pass on to this young man he considered a son.  Think about it, if you know you’re about to die your last words are not going to be, “Water the plants.”  They are going to significant and meaningful.  They’re going to be words Timothy needs in order to live well.

Paul tells Timothy to, “guard the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:14).  This treasure is not gold and silver that Paul buried in the desert, but the Word of God. He shares the reason why the Bible is so important and why it must be guarded:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man (and woman) of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Like my friend from the Trinity post who regrettably believes only the parts of the Bible where Jesus speaks, it’s vital for us to remember that all scripture is God-breathed – which is – inspired by God.  To miss that one mind-blowing fact is to miss out on a Book that we really cannot live without.

Have a wonderful weekend!