Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Friday, May 29, 2015

Which Is Best; Ignorance, Knowledge, Or Activated Knowledge?

     Many people are ignorant (and I am not using this as a derogatory term). There are people who have no idea what the Gospel is, or how it applies to them. There are people who are ignorant when it comes to health issues. They just blindly trust a health official concerning their health and miss the opportunity of finding out the cure or even prevention of their illness.

   So, it would seem like having knowledge is some kind of advantage, doesn't it? But let's see if that is really so.

   The Bible says that 'knowledge puffs up but love edifies'. I was thinking about that this morning. I do have a very strong concern with what I see going on in the body of Christ at large.

   There are those who are professing believers in Jesus Christ who have a lot of knowledge. Even though their knowledge seems to be based from the word of God, the way they live their lives, many times, is contrary to the word of God. Why is this happening?

   The word of God is clear about how God feels about pride. Someone could argue and say that there are no commandments telling us not to be proud, but there are verses that do tell us what will happen if we are proud. Pride comes before a fall, and, God resists the proud. Makes me want to consider more, how not to be proud.

   The term 'puffs up' is referring to pride. Knowledge makes us feel powerful. It seems to empower us, and that in itself might not be bad, but it can be deceptive. When we know something, and others don't know about whatever we know, we feel powerful over them. That is pride.

   Anything that leads to pride is dangerous. Pride considers ourselves more important to others. John Piper says that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is pride. Makes sense.

   I am seeing a lot of people spew a lot of knowledge concerning theology and related issues. If we know so much then what is lacking? Something seems to be missing.

   What I think is missing is simply that we have knowledge, but it is not knowledge that has been applied to our lives. It is not part of us, but it is stored in our minds and we use it as a weapon instead of a life changing device.

   When is knowledge good? It is so valuable when we apply it to our lives. "But be doers of the word, not just hearers, deceiving your own selves". We see the word of God. It makes sense to us. We see how it can help others or when others are in rebellion to God. We just don't see it in ourselves. Somehow, we mistake knowledge for applied knowledge. It has not been activated in our own lives. It only works for us when we apply the knowledge to our hearts. Otherwise, we end up deceived, according to James.

  Is it better to be in ignorance than have knowledge? Both can be devastating to us. We need knowledge, but it needs to be applied and used in the right way. If not, many can be hurt.

   What is missing then, with only knowledge? Remember John Piper's definition of the opposite of love being pride. We are either going to be serving ourselves or serving others. When we love, we serve others. We are kind to those we love. We love people when they fail. We love people when they make mistakes. We love people even when they sin against us. We don't look for ways to repay them or to take revenge.

   The answer to the question above, is simply, love is missing. God is love. Those who know Him will experience His love, not just know about His love, or that He is love. Not only that, but those who know Him will love others. It will be a joy for us to love, when we are growing in our relationship with God.

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.