Monday, April 20, 2015

What Do I Do!?

We currently have at least one generation of people, who have been raised in such a way, that they believe it's up to someone else to tell them what's important, what they need to know, and the "assignments" they need to complete. This type of thinking has taken away the initiative to use an inner heart motivation to explore, discover and create. Our society trains us not to think for ourselves, but to simply respond to what's been put in front of us. This assembly line mentality has hindered people from starting businesses or even working in their gifted fields because they haven't had time to discover or cultivate those gifts. They've been learning what's "important" instead.

The public school format has done such a disservice to our society because its turned learning into nothing but a cookie cutter handout of information, robbing our kids of valuable training time. Instead, we need to instill a personalized love of learning in our children. Their natural passion is going to be in the areas they are gifted in. Instead of taking their best hours of the day and exploring these personal gifts, they have been crammed in as after school or weekend activities between homework and everything else--times that should be used for rest and family. The demands of society have pressured us into taking the precious time that our kids could be using for morning devotionals--seeking God regarding His plan for their life and what they are to do with their time--and turning them into times of rushed and cluttered pop-tart chaos.

It is our responsibility to learn what we need to know. It is not the responsibility of the authorities to tell us what we need to know, or what we need to do. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children of their learning responsibility, and to provide a healthy creative love-of-learning environment. It is not a school systems responsibility to teach them, or choose what they should learn.

The years of our youth have been filled with the wasted time of others taking the lead in our life's instruction. As a result we've learned to respond to much, while initiating little. To reinforce this type of thinking, we are blasted with advertisements from every possible place you can imagine. The more we tune them out the more clever and demanding these ads become. We don't pay attention anymore. We don't search things out like we used to. We've been trained to "think" that if it's important, someone will bombard me with it. How much time do you spend responding to the demands of others as opposed to having the time to initiate and search out what you want to? If you do have the time, are you too tired from everything else to really do it well? We all need "blank" time to seek God, listen and explore where He leads us. There is nothing more important to do with our most valuable time. 

All knowledge, wisdom and understanding comes from God. Whatever it is that you, or your children, need to know in life, is found in Him. He is the One to go to for all instruction. Look at what we are told to do in order to receive the knowledge of God. This is not a picture of someone sitting idly by, but of one diligently going after wisdom and understanding.

"My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you,
Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding."
Proverbs 2:1-6

We are to seek it out, search for it as if it were hidden treasure--because it is! We can't sit back and wait for someone to tell us what to do any longer, and we shouldn't allow our children to be trained to be that way either. It may not be our fault that we've gotten to this place, but once we realize what's happened, we need to have the courage to change it. You have the Greater One in you. He has important things for you to do, don't wait anymore for a person to give you the O.K., seek the Lord with a determined heart and go after your dreams!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Jesus' End of the Age Warning

"And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you."
Matthew 24:4

Jesus was answering His disciples who came to Him asking what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the age. The first thing He said is to see to it that no one misleads you. He goes on to say "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many." (v.5). At the end of this age, many who appear to be Christian, who say that Jesus is the Christ, will mislead many people. He says this again in verse 11, and in verse 24 He says that "false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect." There will be those who say they are Christ who, of course, are not. There will also be those who say that Jesus is the Christ who will deceive many. 

Jesus said not to believe those who say that they are the Christ, or even that He has already come and is "in the wilderness" or "in the inner rooms." He said "just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:26-27). Jesus is not going to come quietly! He will come in a cloud, just as they watched Him ascend into heaven the first time, and "every eye will see Him" when He returns. (Rev. 1:7). Don't follow after anyone who says that they, or someone they know, is the Christ and is already here.

What about those who appear to be Christian, and even do great signs and wonders, yet mislead many people? We know there are genuine gifts given by the Holy Spirit which result in great healings, signs and miracles. We see these in 1 Corinthians 12. We also know that God confirms His word with signs and wonders, (Hebrews 2:1-4, Mark 16:20). We see miracles in both the Old Testament and in the book of Acts done by the early church. So we know there are great signs and wonders genuinely done by God's people. Since this is true, how do we know the difference between those who are false and those who are true?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke of this. He said to "beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:15-16). We judge by their fruit whether a person is a true or false prophet. If the fruit of the Spirit is not evident in their life, if the results of what they do are destructive and dividing, rather than building and encouraging the church, then we know by that bad fruit that it is not the Holy Spirit, but a false representation. A person will produce good fruit if they are abiding in the Lord and He is abiding in them.

John approached Jesus after seeing someone casting out demons in the Lord's name and told Him that they tried to stop him from doing it because he was not following them. Jesus said, "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us." (Mark 9:38-40, see note 1 below). Jesus knew that someone who seeks to do good in His name, has a heart that desires good. Seeing His goodness will lead a person like that to repentance and into a relationship with Him.

However, Jesus also said "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness." (Matthew 7:21-23). This brings us back to judging the fruit. I don't know about you, but this verse makes me examine my own heart as well. We don't want to be misled, but we also don't want to be the misleader! Jesus said two key words regarding this, "I never knew you," and "practice lawlessness."

He must know us. This is more than just us knowing Him, or knowing about Him. We can feel like we know a person, and even do what they say, follow their suggestions etc. yet not really have a relationship with them because they don't know us. For example, if you have a certain person you listen to all the time, you begin to feel like you know that person. This could be a minister, a radio personality, a newscaster etc. Their words abide in you. Yet, if they were to see you face to face they would not know you--your words do not abide in them because you haven't spoken with them. In the same way, someone can get a hold of the words of Jesus and do mighty works in His Name. They may feel like they know the Lord. Yet when the time comes to see Him face to face, will He recognize that person as one of His own? They have not been abiding in Him.

Jesus said that we must abide in Him and He in us in order for us to bear fruit. We will actually bear much fruit if we are in Him and He is in us. When He abides in us, we know Him, His words have reached us. When we abide in Him, He knows us, our words have reached Him. He said that if anyone does not abide in Him (or He doesn't know us) he is thrown away as a branch and dries up. We must abide in Him, not just He in us. The Father is glorified when we bear much fruit and so prove to be His disciples. When He knows us and we know Him than we will bear much fruit and the Father is glorified! (John 15:1-11).

Lawlessness here means a breaking of God's law, not man's law. It's sin and disobedience to Him. These people seemed surprised that their works did not get them into heaven. Those who abide in the Lord will not use His power, His Name, or His Spirit to build a kingdom for themselves, to make themselves look good, or to build something that they think is a good idea. Our spirit must be in sync, filled and saturated with, the Holy Spirit. Then our heart motives will be right--the tree will be good--and the fruit that comes of that will also be good. Those who are led by the Spirit of God, are His sons (and daughters). (Romans 8:14). When we abide in Him and His words abide in us then we can "ask whatever we wish" and it will be done. (John 15:7). A child of God understands the heart and vision of God like no one outside of the family can.

Not being misled is the first warning Jesus gave regarding the end times. He felt it important enough to mention it first, which tells us that we should pay special attention to this warning. Of course, not only watching out for the false spirit in others, but to examine ourselves to be sure we are abiding in Him and He in us!

Note 1-As a side note, when the pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebul, a ruler of demons, He said, "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters." (Matthew 12:22-32). He said this because they spoke against the Holy Spirit, calling Him evil. Jesus didn't care that they spoke against Him (Jesus), but that they called the Holy Spirit a demonic ruler.

Monday, April 6, 2015

What About Psychics?

What does God think about psychics and other forms of contacting the spirit realm? To answer that properly, we need to understand why we are attracted to this "mysterious" world. Humans are naturally drawn to the spiritual realm because we are a spirit being ourselves. We live in an earthly body, but we are spirits, so it makes sense that we would be attracted to the spiritual world and wish to understand it, or even interact with it.1

The Bible tells us that God has foreknown us from the foundations of the world. Every human being is foreknown by God before he or she is even born. Not only that, God has chosen and predestined each one of us to be conformed to the image of His Son--Jesus Christ. That is the will of God for everyone.Even though we're all called into the image of God's Son, we are each unique in personality and in gifting.3 Everyone can be used in a prophetic gifting to a certain extent.4 Some to a greater degree than others, depending on their gifts.

Those who don't know Jesus as Lord, yet seek to operate in a prophetic type gift are those we usually call "psychics." When this person starts to tap into the realm of the spirit, they open themselves up to all kinds of spirits. There are two forces in the spiritual realm--good and evil, or the Holy Spirit and demonic spirits. Without the Holy Spirit inside, a person does not have the discernment to know what is from the Spirit of God and what is not. The devil is not going to tell on himself and let a person know that what he says to them is from him. He is deceptive by nature, sounding harmless and true when he is definitely not.5 

A psychic, basically, doesn't recognize (or chooses not to acknowledge) that the gift he or she has is from God, having no relationship with Him. Once again, this person will not be able (or willing) to differentiate between what is divine and what is demonic. The guidance or "words" this person gives will most likely be demonically (or at the very least, humanly) influenced. A person may be sincere in their desire to help someone through this gift, but because of the lack of purity in their spirit, (see next paragraph), what they tap into from the spiritual realm will not be holy. This could lead you into trouble, but worse yet, it would lead you away from God, away from the Word of God, and keep you from seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

A pure spirit only comes from receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Just because someone is a "good" person doesn't mean they won't be influenced by evil, even if evil is not their intention. Because of the sinful nature of man acquired as a result of the sin of the original parents--Adam and Eve--everyone born on earth sins. Each person needs to be born again, born of the Spirit, and receive the cleansing work of Jesus Christ which He completed by shedding His blood, dying on the cross and rising from the dead, in order to be pure in spirit. When our hearts are made new, free from the sinful nature, and we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will be able to discern the good from the evil, and grow in that discernment as we grow spiritually.

God says not to seek guidance from psychics. The danger of seeking guidance from a psychic is, not only because He says not to do it, but because the spiritual source of a psychic is tainted. The influence they are tapping into will not be from the pure and true Spirit of God. We are to seek only to be led by the Spirit of God. A truly prophetic person, who is born of God and seeking to hear from the Lord, is one who seeks the Lord with a pure heart, only accepting that which is from the Spirit of God. This realm of the spirit is hidden for those who are in Christ.7

Often a psychic will give accurate factual information so you accept that "word" as being from the spiritual realm. But just because it's from the spiritual realm doesn't make it truth. It might be factual, but not from the Spirit of Truth. There is a difference. Once again, this demonic influence may all be done without the "psychic's" knowledge. They may very well be a sincere person--just unknowingly being used by a wrong spirit. Even a person who is born-again can yield to a demonic spirit if not careful. (see the article on What is the Influencing Spirit?)

The question is whether we want truth, or whether we just want some kind of accurate, "how did you know that" information from the spirit realm. A person can get so taken with the accuracy of a word from the spiritual realm that they don't really care what spirit it's from. For example, let's say a deaf person suddenly receives his hearing and becomes excited to hear words. Someone could talk to him and tell him that the color yellow is called purple and so on and get him all mixed up. He's so excited to be able to hear, that he just accepts it all. In the same way, just because someone can hear from the spiritual realm and bring information back doesn't mean that information is the truth. We need to develop a sincere desire for truth and not become taken in by the "coolness" of hearing from the spiritual realm.

The Bible tells us that there is a consequence for not loving the truth--deception.8 The problem with deception is that you don't know you are deceived. We must be a people who love the truth, and seek the Holy Spirit of God, whom Jesus called the Spirit of Truth.9 There is no other place to find the truth but through Jesus Christ, who gives us access to the Holy Spirit. He is the only way, and trying to feel around into the spiritual realm in the dark, without His light, will get us lost in darkness that could be devastating. 

God keeps His mysteries hidden for those who love Him. He loved us to the point of death and wants a relationship with each one of us. He longs for a people who will love Him more than they love anything else--including the good and awesome things found in the realm of the spirit. There really is nothing more satisfying, more beautiful, more indescribably "cool" than an intimate relationship with God Himself. This is the relationship He wants to have with you.

1 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 2 Corinthians 5:1-8,
2 1 Peter 1:1-2, Romans 8:29-30, Ephesians 1:3-6,
3 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:6-8,
4 1 Corinthians 14:31,
5 John 8:44, Revelation 12:9, 2 Corinthians 11:14,
6 Romans 5, John 3, 1 Corinthians 2, Hebrews 5:14, Acts 4:12,
7 1 Samuel 28, Romans 8:14, Colossians 1:25-27, 1 Corinthians 2:6-13,
8 2 Thessalonians 2: 8-12,
9 John 14: 16-17, John 16:13