Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Thursday, May 14, 2015

God Gives Lots of Hope, But Only For Those Who Want Hope

I have a couple of blog thoughts right now, but I will just post one at a time. This one strikes me right now because there are a lot of hopeless people out there. There is hope for them, because those are the people whom God will bring into His kingdom. They are the ones who will have the dramatic testimonies and radical conversions.

In Jesus' day, He encountered two groups of people; those who were hopeless, and those who had false hope. Those who had false hope, were not hopeless, but their hope was in themselves, and they were being successful on making themselves successful. They were deceived because they were trusting in themselves and did not have a need for hope. They were not desperate. They were living a lie.

Jesus said that He came to came not to help those who don't need a physician, but for those who were sick (Remember, Jesus is the Great Physician). Those who are well do not need to see a doctor. Those who are sick are the ones who go to the doctor. They want to get well. The problem in a fallen world is that we are all sick. Spiritually speaking, none of us are well. Some of us think we are though.

Today, in America especially, we are not hungry for God. We are not desperate for Him. We don't need anything because all our needs are basically met. But if we go to some places in Africa or India, you will see people who are hungry for knowing God. They do not have all the bells and whistles that Americans have and they have time to think about God in a clear, realistic way.

All of our toys and goodies actually distort our view of God. We can easily think that if we play our cards right with God, He will bless us. We use God as in idol, or a Genie in a bottle, instead of the One who created us to worship Him. We are so wrapped up in our activities and jobs that we only turn to God when we need something. We are blinded to our need of God because of all the things we have. We don't see Him clearly, and we don't see our need for Him. We are not hungry for Him, nor are we desperate for Him. We are not hopeless because our hope is in the things we have instead of in God.

While I say this, I am totally aware that there are many, many Americans who actually are desperate for God. There are people who are in prison, and have no where else to turn. There are many who live in places where their homes or dwelling places are dangerous or substandard. There are those who make less than minimum wage and can barely make ends meet. And there are those who have everything materially, but are struggling in their relationships. Many suffer mentally and have deep, serious mental illnesses. Lots of people feel trapped and are stuck in a situation or sin that they can't seem to be free from.

  This second group has much more hope than the first group I described, because they are not deceived. They can see what is really important. Sometimes, blessings, or things that we get that make us happy, can be a hinderance, not a help, in our relationship with God. Prosperity can be a curse, not a blessing. We could be the richest person in the world, but not a penny of that will help us on Judgment Day.

   If you happen to be one of those who are hopeless today, you are in for some good news! If you can see God as your only hope, you can turn to Him, and He can be everything to you. But if you do not want to turn to Him, there is no other place to go for hope.

  You might be rich and have everything that is out there, but you might be realizing that all of these material things are really empty. That is a good place to be! You might have a 6 digit salary, but you know something is missing. God invites you to come to Him as well. Stop trusting in your material goods and be willing to let go of them, and turn to God for your hope. When you come to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, you will never be the same.

     Those who come to Christ in repentance and faith, are born into God's family. Each person who comes to Christ has a new nature and the power of God lives in him or her. God has such a wonderful life planned for those who know Him. He will never turn anyone away who comes to Him in repentance and faith. (Repentance is simply turning from living for yourself and turning to God and trusting in Him).

   The devil has two lies concerning hope. One of them is that we are not hopeless and we can put our hope in things instead of God (rich people are rarely hopeless because they trust in their riches). The other lie is that there is no hope anywhere. That lie leads people to commit suicide. It leads people to live defeated lives and keeps them in a state of hopelessness until they know that their hope can be in God, if they turn to Him.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why Slander Is So Evil

   I have seen slander in the last several years and it is ugly. It is ugly because there are people who trust in the integrity of the slanderer, and believe what he or she says, no matter how ridiculous the report is.

   What is slander and why do we do it, especially those of us who know better? Slander is giving a bad report about someone or something. You have to wonder if the Ninth Commandment has slandering in mind (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor).

   The reason why slander is so effective is usually because it contains some elements of truth, but the truth is always twisted around. It is usually done to destroy a person's credibility. But what about when someone is to be warned about something? How can we do that without slandering?

   If we want to give an honest evaluation about someone, we need to know both sides of the story. Any one of us can look at something at face value and come to our own conclusions. For example, I remember reading a story of how a marriage broke up because the wife always had a hard time trusting her husband. They were reconciled, but were at a dance. She saw her husband dancing with a woman he seemed to know. That did it. The relationship ended. She knew that her husband definitely was seeing other women. What she didn't know was that the woman her husband was dancing with, was his sister whom he had not seen for ages.

   Speculations can get us into trouble, especially if we already have preconceived ideas of what we think is reality. We have to be careful to not let our imaginations run wild, but we need to be even more careful to not develop preconceived ideas based upon what we want to think or what we are afraid of.

   We need to have some familiarity with both parties who are struggling. If we don't, what ends up happening is that we believe the party that is doing the accusation. If the accusing party has a complaint, then they should work out the issue between them. If they can't get it resolved, then there are people who can help, who can get involved and be objective. It does not have to go any further than that unless an outside party has been offended. We don't have to develop a Facebook page grieving our complaint against the person we are struggling with. We don't have to air out our complaints to people whom we don't know, or who have no idea what the situation is about.

   Things to keep in mind:

* Any one of us can be tempted to slander. We are not above the temptation to destroy another person.
* When hearing a bad report, do not continue to spread it.
* The goal in any broken relationship needs to be reconciliation, not continued destruction.
* 'Warning' people against someone or a company is not usually necessary, especially if you are not personally involved.
* Slander had destroyed many valuable relationships and it is not a caring way to resolve issues.
* Slander is an abomination before God. (Proverbs 6).
* Satan is skilled in slandering, and continually tempts us to slander.
* Our sinful hearts really do love to slander. God's word commands us to love. Those who slander do not love. Our love for God is measured by our love for others. If we slander, we show we don't love God.
* When hearing about a situation that is a bad report, learn both sides of the story, not just one.
* Do not take the words of one person or one side, and believe that is the whole story.

I have to take these principles wherever I go. I have learned to be a detective of slander and I will do everything to nip it in the bud when I see it.

The big key again, is to not just take someone's word for something as absolute truth. You really have to know both sides of the story, from both parties. Most of the time, the accused person has an entirely different version of what really took place.

"Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD." Leviticus 19:16

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Overflow And How It Affects Us When We Do Evangelism

    For many years I have wondered what the disconnect between sharing the Gospel (doing evangelism) and living out our lives for God's glory was. It always seemed like the two should work together, but when you study evangelism and take classes, it seems like a brand new subject you need to study and then practice. Basically, it doesn't seem natural, and I never knew why.

   The answer finally came to me recently. If you look in the Bible, sharing the Gospel and ministering to the lost seems like part of what was happening in the lives of the Apostles. It doesn't look like they had to have classes to teach others how to share the Gospel, and I am not opposed at all to taking classes on evangelism. But it seems like when we take these classes, we are learning something like a foreign language and I am baffled by it. Why is there a disconnect?

   Let's see. Perhaps we are not spending enough time with the Lord? I think that is part of it, but it goes much deeper than that. The Bible talks about being 'Spirit-filled' but what does that mean?

   Unfortunately, there are some teachings in the body of Christ which will tell you that a person has all of God that he or she will ever have, when the person comes to Christ and is converted. In a sense, this is true because God does give us everything we need for live and Godliness. We don't get more or less of God as time goes on.

   But there is another sense that this teaching can be misleading of. The Bible does indicate that there is a depth of our relationship with God that can go way deeper than what we already have. Unfortunately, some of the lively television gang have taken off with this truth and have seemingly lost the whole point of why God saved them in the first place. We need to have a deeper relationship with God. Our relationships with God should be growing and deepening.

   Many times, I think we don't grow spiritually or go deeper with the Lord for a variety of reasons. Most churches do not practice Biblical discipleship, or if they do, they do it wrong and give it a bad name, a name people want to avoid because it could lead to danger. People are ignorant of God's presence and they do not understand His power because they are never taught anything concerning this.

  We think of God, and our conversion as some kind of mental process. We know we are right and our spirits bear witness to the truth. But are we getting to know the Lord better and are we living in His Power day by day? Or are we just growing in our knowledge of the truth and in our ability to defend the faith better? There is nothing wrong at all with learning the truth, and we do need to grow in our understanding of it, but I think our knowledge of the truth substitutes our relationship with God, many times.

   The Bible talks about the 'joy of the Lord' as being our strength. We know we need the joy of the Lord, and sometimes I think, we think we have it, when in reality, we only have the knowledge of it and acknowledgement of it being what we need.

   Have we really encountered God? Have we had an encounter like Isaiah did in Isaiah chapter 6? He saw the Lord and was blown away. In the New Testament, the Disciples were blown away quite often. When we truly encounter God, we will be changed, and as we live out our lives for His glory, we will be filled with His Presence. Then we will be like the Disciples who 'turned the world upside down' because the Presence of God was with them, and they had the grace of God, along with the Power of God working with them.

   I think the first problem is ignorance. The second reason we don't experience the overflowing Power of God is because of fear. We know that the devil operates in the power of the occult and we know that we can visibly see things the devil does, at times. I think we don't trust God enough to know that God promises to give us good gifts. He will not give us counterfeits. The devil will not sneak in and trade a gift from God for one of his tricks. Not if we are really seeking God. We are afraid of encountering anything supernatural, for different reasons. But God is supernatural and He is way bigger than the devil. God is good and will not let us be tricked by the devil when we receive His gifts to us.

  I think though, that a big reason we don't overflow with God's Presence is because we simply don't really want it. Our work and jobs take first priority in our thoughts and plans. Immediate needs come up that have to be taken care of. We are tired. We are prone to unbelief and are vulnerable to sin because we are not guarding our hearts vigilantly. We tend to think we can 'get to God' sometime later in the day, when it is more convenient. This is the reason I struggle with the most, so I am speaking right out of my own everyday experiences.

   This, I believe is the reason why evangelism is unnatural for us. It is unnatural because we are not living supernatural lives. We are not living in the Presence and Power of God. God wants to take us deeper and invites us, but do we take the time to go where He wants us to?

   What is most important to us? That is the thing we love. As Mark Cahill said, "What you love, you talk about..... If you love sports, you will talk about sports.....If you love Jesus Christ, you will talk about Jesus Christ..."

   When we grow in our love for God, we will experience His Presence in our lives. His Power will be there and will enable us to serve Him. We can be filled to overflowing. Out of our mouths, whatever we say, will reveal what is in our hearts.

   Many of us are 'overflowing' with the knowledge of God. That is good in itself for is we allow the knowledge of God and the truths of His word to permeate our souls, we will be fed spiritually and will know Him better. But if we just have this knowledge in our minds, and can accurately silence an atheist, we won't necessarily be overflowing in our relationship with God.

   God wants to activate His word in our hearts. His Holy Spirit will take the word of God and will activate it in our hearts. Then we respond by acting on His word. God wants His word to be in our hearts, not only in our minds. Faith has to be activated in our hearts, and that comes by hearing God's word.

   We can encounter God today, and He will fill us with His love. When that happens, we will be changed and we will desire to share the Gospel and will tell of His wonders. We will love God, and we will love others as well. It will be natural and we will not have any more disconnect from our lives and the Gospel.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

God Does Not Put His Children In A Protective Bubble - Instead, He Gives Each One Weapons To Do Battle With

   I think many of us think that, because God is sovereign and because God is love, He will shield His children from the fiery darts of the wicked. We see in Psalm 18:2, that we can run to God and He will be a strong tower for protection for us. God is our rock, tower, and protector. There is no question about this. But that is not the same thing as being in the spiritual battle we are in. Whether we like it or not, we are involved in the battle. We are either passive, and will let the darts of the Enemy of our souls destroy us, or, we will take the shield of faith and use it against him.

   Are we aware of the fact that we are in a battle, and this battle is raging all around us, even at this moment? Are we wearing the spiritual armor that God tells us to put on in Ephesians 6? Or are we just assuming that God will protect us from the fiery darts of the Enemy, and just do nothing about this battle?

  One of the tricks of the Enemy of our souls, is to lay our weapons down. An example of this is what I experience on many days. I know I need to pray, not because it is my duty or obligation to pray, but because I need God's help in my life in every area. Yet, so many things get in the way of my praying. Some are unintentional, others are more directly intentional.

   Why would the Enemy even care about my prayers? Because I am going to battle for the souls of lost people when I pray. I am going to battle for the souls of people who are trapped in darkness. Did you know that there are parents who live right here in America, even in our neighborhoods, who practice Satanic Ritual Abuse on their children? Do you know why they rarely are ever found? I believe it is because we are too relaxed when it comes to praying.

   There are people in other countries who have never heard the Gospel message. Some of them are demon possessed. Some are tormented by demons, much like the man in Mark 5 who lived among the tombstones. What if Jesus never went to the cemetery to find that man? He would have lived out the rest of his life being tortured by the demons who were dwelling inside him. How would you like to be praying for people who are being tormented like that, and watch them be set free? Put yourself in their place. Wouldn't you hope that someone would come and deliver you from the demons?

   The devil wants us to lay down our weapons. He wants us to do nothing when it comes to suffering. He wants us to believe that God is causing our suffering and that God will bring us through. Now, I know that Paul was going through a difficult trial, and he prayed three times for God to take it away, but God didn't. It could really be that God will bring us through a tough time. But it also could be an attack of the devil, and we should be in prayer about it.

   Praying and fasting breaks the bonds that people are in.  "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He shall say, Here I am. If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;  Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your reward.
 Is it not to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor who are cast out to your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58:6-9

   What about preaching the Gospel? The power of God unto salvation is in the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus died to pay for our sins, and to disarm the Enemy of our souls. "They overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" Revelation 12:11 When we acknowledge the blood of Jesus Christ, we acknowledge the weapon the will defeat Satan and the powers of darkness.

   Faith is a weapon that increases in us as we feed on God's word, the Scriptures. Faith will ward away the Enemy of our souls. Faith is a powerful weapon against the devil and his lies.

   Just before Jesus went to the Cross, He was preparing the Disciples to be ready for this. He knew they would all desert Him, but Peter assured Jesus that he would always stay with Him, no matter what. Even if he had to die. Jesus responded by telling Peter that Satan asked to destroy Peter. What God allowed was for Peter to be sifted as wheat. After his being sifted, his faith would be restored. Not too long after that, Peter denied knowing Jesus for fear of being harmed. He forsook his best friend at the most needed time. Notice though, God did not put Peter in a safety bubble. The devil was allowed to attack him with a strong temptation to sin, and Peter fell.

I believe the devil asks God for permission to destroy each one of us who know Him. God will put limits on the devil, but we need to be aware of what is going on. We need to know God's word, and we NEED TO USE IT. We need to let faith develop, and we need to expose the works of darkness as they become revealed to us. No wonder the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing!

  No, God does not put us in a protective battle when we come to Christ and are converted. Rather, He gives us instructions on how to fight in this battle. Are you ready to fight today? Or will just just passively sit back and let the Enemy bowl you over? Keep in mind that the devil is relentless in trying to discourage us and in fighting against us. It is time for us to put on the spiritual armor and fight in this battle, starting this moment.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Question For Those Who Hunt Down False Teachers

   I have a question for those who hunt down false teachers. Let me give some background first, and then I will ask the question.

   My concern is this; We have taken this hunting of false teachers and heretics to an extreme, to a place where it was never intended to be. The Bible does tell us to watch out for false teachers. They do appear to blend in with the true teachers. But the fruit of their lives does not match.

 What we are doing, many times, is simply pointing a finger at someone we don't agree doctrinally with. Now, I am aware that if a person does not believe in Jesus Christ being God in the flesh and dying for our sins, and rising from the dead, then yes, the person is a false teacher. If that person is promoting ideas contrary to those facts, they are teaching a false Gospel. And we do need to be concerned.

   The problem is, many times, that we throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. Yesterday, I was reading an article saying that psychology is a false teaching. I have to agree partly with that statement, yet, as I continued to read the article, it became clear that anything that had to do with counseling, even Biblical counseling, was heresy. Those who have mental problems and baggage are just expected to repent. Otherwise, they will not take responsibility for their actions. So, you have a woman who has been traumatized by rape, and when she comes to you for counseling, I guess the only thing you need to tell her is to forgive her rapist and repent from any sins that she has committed. How do you think the rape victim is processing this when you tell her to forgive and repent? Does she need to forgive and repent? Absolutely. But she will never be reached or helped if that is the starting place in Biblical counseling. She will never learn about the God who is just, and who will take vengeance on those who harm His children. Her idea of God will be one of a harsh tyrant demanding forgiveness immediately after being violated. Does this make sense? In other words, it is making her responsible for the sins of those who have violated her. Chances are good that the rapist may never been caught or penalized for his actions, but we need to agree with her, that what was done is abominable. We need to take the burden of the rapists responsibility off her. We need to vindicate her first, then, as God leads, we will help her to understand what the Bible says about the price God paid for each individual sin that we all have committed, not just the rapist's sin. Over time, she will learn that she is accountable for herself and her own sins.

   I guess these people who write articles like the one mentioned above, live in some kind of spiritual bubble. Jesus came to minister healing to the broken hearted. When the broken hearted are healed, they will repent. They will repent because their spiritual eyes will see Jesus and they will be in awe of Him. These people who think that the answer to every dilemma is to repent and forgive, first of all, do not understand what the Bible teaches. Sometimes, God has to meet a person where he or she is at, then repentance and trust come about. It is not the other way around.

    Years ago, I remember hearing about a Christian band whose artists did not believe in the Trinity. They believed in modalism. It became common knowledge of this group and they were labeled by many as false teachers. I had made comments about the group, simply because it must have been fact if everyone believed it. I did a search on this group and found nothing. I found no evidence that they didn't believe in the Trinity. Their songs certainly do not indicate that they don't believe in the Trinity. Years later, they made a public statement that they believe in the Trinity. I have to wonder if a rumor got started and finally reached their ears and they came to defend themselves on the false accusations that they were hearing about themselves.

  Maybe I have a couple of questions for those who hunt down false teachers. One of them is, 'what is your motive for hunting down false teachers?' I think a lot of people enjoy doing this because deep down in our darkened hearts, we love to slander and gossip. We think that because we are Christians, we don't slander any more. But unless that seed is destroyed in our hearts, we will still slander.

Is it to protect the church? If so, wouldn't it be better if we taught people the truth, and in particular, the truth that is the opposite of whatever the false teaching is? Truth always wins over lies. Let's make an example of this. Let's say there is a false teaching going around like modalism (modalism denies the Trinity). Can we teach the doctrine of the Trinity Biblically speaking, to our people? Can we promote truths that are in direct contrast to the false teaching of modalism? Instead of taking a person who believes in modalism, and ripping him apart, can we just mention his name and what he is teaching and why it is not Biblical? Anything beyond that becomes slander. Christians are never to slander, even if the person is deceitful and evil, wearing a sheep's skin.

   There is a difference between exposing a false teacher and ripping him or her to shreds. We are not told to rip false teachers to shreds. This is a good opportunity though, to spend our time and resources on promoting the truth. We can be proactive in this. We can have the upper hand. When people have wrong teachings, it could mean that the person is ignorant. It could mean the person is in total rebellion. We don't know. It is not our job to destroy people. It is our job to point people away from false teachers and lead them into the truth.

   So, please be discerning and hear my plea. Please do not add me to any Facebook group that is dedicated to hunting down heretics or ripping wolves who are wearing sheep's clothing apart. I am totally into learning about whatever false teachings are going on out in the world, and have voluntarily joined those groups.

   We have to separate the truth from the lies. But we don't have to destroy people while we do that. God is very patient with us and some may actually repent when they realize the wrong they are doing. Meanwhile, we can be the deceived ones, not necessarily doctrine wise, but we can be disregarding what the Bible says about how we should treat others.

   Jesus, Paul, and Peter had encounters with people who were false teachers. They dealt with the subject at hand. They warned people about the false teachers. Then they went on to whatever they were doing originally. They didn't spend a whole lot of time ripping the false sheep apart.

   Finally, God gave us His Holy Spirit. He will guide us into all truth if we are open. The more we grow in truth, the easier is it to pick up on the lies. We can evaluate a person who makes a claim or has a teaching, and God will help us to know if that person is really from Him or is a counterfeit.

Some verses on false teachings. http://www.openbible.info/topics/false_teachings

They can look just like the real thing

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Lesson I Learned From The Squirrels Who Are Eating My Garden

  Nothing is more discouraging than watching your garden grow, then finding that some backyard squirrels are destroying all that work you put into the garden. It's not like you can reason with squirrels or provide alternatives for them to enjoy. By nature, they are diggers. They dig for food. They are very destructive.

  I have invested a lot of money in the gardens, and have spent a lot of time babying my plants. Once I put them outside in their grown up pots, they disappear. Either the squirrels destroy them or tree branches fall on them. In spite of that, some have survived.

   The squirrels put the icing on the cake this morning when they got a hold of one of my ripening tomatoes. That does it. I have a BB gun that I will use on them, and am now learning the skill of shooting a gun. It works. But I have to be out there 24/7 to watch for the squirrels. That, of course, is impossible.

   Now, I have been praying about an answer for the squirrels. There are many options, but most cost money and are expensive. I don't have that kind of money right now, so, it looks like I have to just keep watch for them and get my gun out and use it when they hop over to my plants.

   I am wondering, what does God see when this is happening? He knows that the squirrels are causing terrible problems, not just for me, but for many people who garden. Is God going to give me wisdom, or an answer for this, or, does He have something else in mind?

An idea, or thought came to mind. I realized how proactive and motivated I am to get rid of the squirrels. I would check often to see if any squirrels were out there. I had my gun in hand if they were out. I spent a lot of time protecting or guarding my plants.

   I wonder if we are that vigilant in protecting ourselves from the temptations to sin? Are we that proactive in fighting against sin? The Enemy of our souls is always after us to destroy us, yet, are we keeping our guards up to protect ourselves from his traps?

   The Bible tells us to do something specific. In Ephesians, chapter 6, we are told to 'put on the whole armor of God'. If you ask any professing Christian, they are probably aware of this command, and they probably think they are doing it. But are we? Are we really putting on the whole armor of God, or do we just acknowledge that God told us to put on the whole armor of God? Do we even really know what that means?

   A friend told me one time, that she is positive that most professing Christians do not read their Bibles on a regular basis. She admitted that she had just started reading the Bible for herself. Many of us have at least one Bible in the house. Some have several. Do we read them and let God speak to us through them, or, do we just acknowledge that the Bibles are there, in our homes, and think that they are effective just because we own one?

   If we lived in a Third World Country, and if we personally know Jesus Christ, we would be reading our Bibles, if we have one. In America, we have everything we want at our fingertips. God takes a back seat to everything we do. We consult Him if everything else fails, or, we blame God for our failures. We are not hungry enough for God, here in the United States. The devil has played a trick on us, and I include myself here. Other things take a greater priority than God does. If we lost everything we own, we could become bitter. If we lived in a Third World Country, it wouldn't matter because we wouldn't have material things that are so valuable to us.

   God wants us to feed upon His word. That is not the same as going through a ritual everyday of reading so many chapters in the Bible so we can check that task off when we get done. We take in God's word to us, and it builds faith in us, when we feed upon it. Faith is a great weapon against the devil.

  We have heard it said, 'Preach the Gospel to yourselves'. In Ephesians 6, we are told to have our feet shod with the Gospel of peace. The power of God is in the Gospel. In Revelation 12:11, we are told that 'they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony'. In Colossians, chapter 2, Jesus' death accomplished the disarming of the powers of darkness. No wonder the devil doesn't want us to know God's word.

  The devil is full of lies. God is full of truth. The way we combat the lies of the devil is to present the truth. The truth extinguishes lies. But if we don't know the truth, if we are not growing in our relationship with God and understanding Him more clearly, we will not be able to combat the lies of the devil. We probably won't even know they are lies because they will seem plausible to us. But if we have the 'mind of Christ' we will be able to discern between the truth and the lies.

  Yes, God tells us to be vigilant. We are not bystanders in a civil war. Whether we like it or not, we are participating in this battle. But, we might be playing on the wrong side, if we are not being proactive. Just as I am being proactive in dealing with the squirrels, we must be proactive in dealing with the powers of darkness. The alternative is that we will become casualties in this war, or worse, castaways, who will lose out in the kingdom of God. It doesn't have to be that way though. We are on the winning side. We must stay awake and keep our guards up at all times.

They are no longer cute. They are destructive. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Is God Primarily Concerned With Your Happiness or Your Holiness?

Is God more concerned about our happiness, or is He more concerned about our becoming holy? There is a reason I am asking this question. Depending upon which Christian camps you come from will determine which answer you choose for this question.

There seems to be a trend in Christian thinking today, that leads me to believe that many do not understand God's attribute of holiness. The main reason I am thinking about this right now, is that there are many famous 'Christian' people who have gone through divorces, and also marriage counseling. The issue seems to go something like this:
Christian: "I want a divorce from my spouse."
Counselor: "Why do you want a divorce?"
Christian: (Two different answers, which tie in with each other come up) "I don't love my spouse anymore." or "I am not happy in our marriage".
The counselor agrees with the 'Christian' and gives consent for divorce. 

Does God's word tell us to seek our own 'happiness'? If we are not happy in a marriage, is that a valid reason to get a divorce? Listen to what one authority says about marriage:

"Now I know that the subject of divorce is a very contentious one among Christians, especially those of the evangelical variety.  So I will put in my two cents’ worth, and then I will open the floor for discussion.
Let’s start with this:  Divorce is contrary to the will of God.  The clear teaching of Scripture is that the Lord hates divorce.
However, we live in a fallen world.  Marriages fail.  Even among Christians who seek to honor God and take His word seriously.
There are many reasons why marriages fail.  Sometimes they fail because of selfishness on the part of one or both of the people involved.  Sometimes they fail because of reasons that are much more graphic and poignant, i. e. adultery, abandonment, emotional or even physical abuse.
And sometimes marriages fail because the people involved are mismatched personality-wise.  They are just not a good fit for each other.  They may try to make such a marriage work, and even succeed for a limited time.  But eventually it becomes clear that such a marriage cannot continue without doing serious violence, emotionally and/or spiritually, to one or both of the people involved."*
What? Such a marriage cannot continue without doing serious violence, to one of both of the people involved? That's like saying, 'we shouldn't build relationships with other people because we will probably get hurt by them at some point." 
Relationships are messy. Marriage is hard. Life was never intended to be easy. It's like we get a math problem or a jigsaw puzzle every day that we have to solve or finish. We were never intended to be free from challenges or hard situations. That doesn't mean we give up in them and don't ask God for help. Sometimes, difficulties get resolved. But sometimes, God just gives grace and wisdom in difficulties. 
The Bible talks about relationships as iron sharpening iron. Although there is happiness in good relationships, God has something deeper He wants to do in our hearts, and it could involve pain or suffering. Difficulties help us grow spiritually. We cannot be spiritually healthy if we don't grow. We will feel growing pains. That is normal. But what God wants to do, is to conform us to the image of His Son. If we are to represent Him accurately, we must resemble His Son, and that takes spiritual growth and maturing for us. Those things might not make us happy. But, God promises to be with us, and if we receive His grace, we will be filled with His joy. 
God does not necessarily want us to be unhappy. But the point of our lives is that we will live lives that will glorify Him. If we seek our own happiness, we are missing the point of what He is doing in us. Simply speaking, we are in idolatry. 
God promises to meet our needs. He blesses us with what we need. We will end up missing God's blessings and provision if we seek happiness instead of Him. That is where I think many are missing the boat. Even Christian authority figures don't seem to understand this concept. 
When we come to Christ, and are converted, we are changed. The Bible says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away. We also receive a new heart. It is a heart that can actually love God. It is a heart that loves spiritual things from God. We also receive the Holy Spirit and now we have the power of God to live a new life in a new way. But there is more. When we are born again, we are like spiritual babies in a spiritual nursery called the church. We feed our souls on God's word, and His word becomes activated in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and we grow spiritually. We mature spiritually. The process is called, 'sanctification', and it will continue until our death. 
Those who seek happiness instead of holiness will miss the process of sanctification. They are being cheated out of getting the good, rich spiritual food that comes from Scriptures. They are missing the power of the Holy Spirit giving them the ability to live a new life in a new way. They are missing the new heart God wants them to have. 
Instead of getting to know God in a deeper way, they become frustrated and blame God for the out of order life they are living. Essentially, they believe in a god that is supposed to make them happy. They know very little about the God who is concerned with making us holy.
(The author of the article I quoted from asked for some feedback/discussion. I commented my thoughts. I haven't heard back concerning them). 
* Joe Derbes
Recommended books:   
*Relationships-A Mess Worth Making (Tripp/Lane)  
*When Sinners Say "I Do": Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage (Dave Harvey)
*Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Resources for Changing Lives)  (Paul David Tripp)

*Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations (Brett Harris)