Selasa, 21 Oktober 2008
Raising the Standard
by Joyce Meyer
Make a decision to serve God wholly, putting Him first in everything you do. Living above society’s moral decline involves the choices we make regarding our conversations, the way we dress, what we read, and the TV shows and movies we watch. It also has to do with the level of integrity with which we live our personal lives, interact with other people and conduct ourselves in our businesses or professions.
As Christians, we need to encourage one another to live by godly standards and to resist the pull of the world. We need to hold each other accountable for the words, images and information we allow into our minds.
A well-known quote offers some good advice: “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
You may be thinking, Joyce, the music I hear and the movies I watch are really none of your business. True, but I know that setting high standards and living a godly lifestyle will bring you blessings and set you on a good path toward your future. I don’t believe watching excessive violence, listening to filthy language or seeing images of people scantily dressed will help you grow in God.
Romans 14: 22 makes very clear that we should not do things we feel guilty about or try to make others live by our convictions: “Your personal convictions [on such matters]—exercise [them] as in God’s presence, keeping them to yourself [striving only to know the truth and obey His will]. Blessed (happy, to be envied) is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves [who does not convict himself by what he chooses to do]” (The Amplified Bible).
God is interested in the influences we allow in our lives. In addition to what we see and hear, we need to be very careful about the people with whom we spend our time. The Bible teaches us not to sit passively and inactively in the pathway of sinners, nor to relax and rest in the presence of the scornful and mockers (see Ps. 1:1).
It is easy to dive into a body of water and float downstream with the current, but it is more difficult to swim upstream. It is often easier just to go along with other people and do what the majority of them want to do, but in the long run doing so can cause us significant heartache and misery.
We must set high standards for what we wear, what we watch on TV, what we listen to, how we use our time, whom we associate with, and how we spend our money.
A lifestyle of obedience to God’s Word offers many blessings. If we would commit to higher standards of holiness in our lives, we could eliminate some of the enemy’s ammunition and thwart some of his plans against us. Our lifestyle choices would help form shields around us that Satan could not penetrate. The things we see and hear can be tools the enemy uses to wage war on the battlefields of our minds.
When we see or hear something, it is recorded forever in the subconscious mind. Who do you think is behind ungodly scenes, images and words in so much of today’s music, television, Internet and printed material? It isn’t God; it’s the enemy!
Working through the world’s system, Satan constantly pours out poison, and often we just sit by passively taking in whatever is being offered. We must decide whether we are going to dedicate ourselves to God or serve the world system.
One of God’s great gifts to mankind is the power of choice. If we want to enjoy the blessings He has for us, we need to make lifestyle choices that align with His Word and are consistent with the values of His Word, not choices reflecting the constantly eroding values of the world.
I urge you to make a decision to serve God wholly, putting Him first in everything you do.
Sabtu, 18 Oktober 2008
Standing Behind Our Wall
by Francis Frangipane www.frangipane.org
The sense of distance we often feel between Christ and ourselves is an illusion. As we enter the days prior to Christ's Second Coming, the Lord shall begin to remove that falsehood. Indeed, He promises, "In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you" (John 14:20).
The Scriptures tell us that Christ is the vine, we are the branches; He is the head, we are His body; He is the Lord and we are His temple. From start to finish, the Bible declares the Lord not only has a dwelling in heaven, but that He also abides perpetually in redemptive union with His people. The ever-present focus of His activity is to guide us into oneness with Himself.
Thus, for all that the Holy Spirit has come to establish in our lives, whether through gifts, virtue or power, His highest purpose is to lead us into the presence of Jesus. The Holy Spirit labors ceaselessly to establish intimacy between ourselves and the Lord Jesus. Someone once said that intimacy means "into-me-see." This holy transparency fills the letters and words of the Bible with the heartthrob of God. Like sheep, we actually hear the Shepherd's voice speaking to our spirits, bringing comfort, correction and direction (see John 10:27).
Not only are we privileged to know Christ's teachings, He is so close to us in spirit that we can discern the tone of His voice as He instructs us. This is heart-to-heart intimacy. Listen to His wonderful promise:
"I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep" (John 10:14-15).
Jesus says, "I know My own, and My own know Me." How intimate is this relationship? The union between Christ and our hearts is of the same quality as His union with the Father. He says it is "even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father."
Yet, the sense of distance between Jesus Christ and us persists. You may have prayed, "Lord, You said You are with us forever but I feel alone. I cannot perceive You." If Christ is within us, how can we find the living flame of His presence?
In the Song of Solomon, this quest to find the secret place of His presence is given wonderful expression. The bride says, "Listen! My beloved! Behold, he is coming, climbing on the mountains, leaping on the hills! My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag" (Song of Sol. 2:8-9).
This is our Lord, full of vitality! He is "climbing on the mountains, leaping on the hills." To see Him on mountains, though, is to behold Him from afar. He is still distant. How do we live in a moment-by-moment sense of His indwelling presence? We still ask, "Where within me are You, Lord, within me?"
The bride continues,
"Behold, he is standing behind our wall, he is looking through the windows, he is peering through the lattice" (Song of Sol. 2:9).
Yes, Christ dwells within us, but He is standing behind our "walls." The walls between us and the Savior are primarily the work of unrenewed minds and hardened hearts. We have barricaded ourselves behind fears and carnal attitudes; we are held hostage by sin and worldly distractions.
Yet these barriers can be eliminated. To the degree they are removed, we possess oneness with Christ and experience true spiritual advancement.
Removing the Walls
Even now, let us pursue the removal of these barriers. How? Imagine that, even as you are reading, the Lord Himself has quietly entered a nearby room. You look, and suddenly the room is vibrant and alive, shimmering with waves of light. Instantly, your senses are flooded with His holy presence as the living, probing light enters you and descends into your heart. The darkness that shrouded your inner sin nature is gone and your heart is exposed.
My first question: Knowing that Jesus Christ is in the room, would you enter?
If you could not bring yourself to move toward the room, what would be your reason? If it is because you feel you have failed the Lord too many times, then shame has become a "wall" between you and Christ. If fear keeps you distant, then fear is the barrier between God and you; if an unrepentant heart is keeping you from intimacy with Christ, then heart hardness is your cause of isolation.
Remember, the pure in heart see God (see Matt. 5:8). If we repent of our wrong attitudes and sins; if, instead of shame and fear, we clothe ourselves with the garments of praise and salvation, the barriers between ourselves and the Lord shall be removed.
But let me ask you a second question: How would you enter Christ's presence?
It is my opinion that we would not pick up tambourines and dance into His glory. No. When the greatest apostles and prophets beheld Him, His presence caused each to fall face down as a dead man before Him. For me, it would be with great trembling that I would approach the room of His presence. I would inch my way closer.
How can we break the sense of distance between ourselves and Christ? In the same way we would repent of sin and shame before entering the room, let us turn our gaze toward His living glory. In trembling obedience, let us enter the fire of His presence for, in truth, He is closer than the room next door. He is, even now, standing behind our wall.
Lord Jesus, I remove the wall created by my fears, sin, and shame. Master, with all my heart I desire to enter Your glory, to stand in Your presence and love You. Receive me now as I bow before Your glory.
Dominion- An Eight Letter Word
by Robert Ricciardelli www.vision2advance.com
When some people hear the word dominion, flags go way up. I have seen fire come out of some who have heard the word preached. I can understand this, because there are various interpretations of what this word means as a believer in Christ, and His Kingdom. Agenda filled paradigms make this an eight letter cuss word in some circles.
I wanted to briefly share my view of dominion in light of the Kingdom of God. Dominion is in the bible. Stewardship and godly influence are in the bible. The ability to carry His love, His presence, and watch atmospheres and hearts change for His glory, are all in the bible. When Christian or non-Christian men are after their own desires, the dominion they operate under is a very ugly word. Greed, domination, and control, are some characteristics that come to mind. Ultimately, power, while putting others in bondage is the fruit of ugly dominionist mindsets.
Father's love for the world and allowing us to be His ambassadors of love, is the foundation of His dominion plan. He has always desired His people to steward the earth as led by Him. By walking in His presence, in His plan, and with His heart, dominion is inevitably going to happen. It is His very nature. It is His very plan from the before the genesis of creation. The Lord stewards people, and His people steward His stuff.
We must remember that Jesus said His Kingdom is not of this world. So if what we are building looks like, smells like, tastes like, the kingdoms of this world, we probably are operating outside of His blueprints for the thing. I am not interested in building an earthly kingdom, but I am interested in building His heavenly Kingdom on earth for His glory.
How do we get there? We die. Baptism is supposed to symbolize are commitment to death of self, and our new birth and life in Jesus. Our journey is supposed to be increasing death, while revealing His increasing life flowing out from within us. If we do not live, move, and have our being in Him, then it is probable that we may be building an earthly replica of His true Kingdom. When we do not use the keys of His Kingdom, we build a product that does not represent Him or His Kingdom. Binding and loosing in a sea of humanity opposes the Lord’s Prayer of “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.
We must hear His voice and begin to declare His will and purposes for our life and for the things He has called us to. We must have His revelation, His vision, and His mission for our life. The world is looking on and they are seeing self seeking church, a church seeking after a sign rather than delivering a sign and a wonder by His mandate, and His authority.
My friend David VanCronkhite says often, “If the Kingdom of God is anything, and it is everything, it is relational, supernaturally relational”. Anything that we do must have relationship and love as the foundation. When we desire to do good to others, which should be always, we put them first. We take on the role of servant. What happened to the “greatest among you must be your servant” concept? It has fallen way to agenda’s, mammon, control, etc. These are the things of anti-Kingdom building. These have no part in the Kingdom Jesus was talking about, and this is not the dominion Jesus is talking about. Hear Ye Him!
The Kingdom of God desires to serve, influence, transform, deconstruct, reconstruct, shake up, wake up, and glorify Him in all things, in all spheres, throughout the planet. If you want to call this dominion, and the bible calls it such, then we can call it such. I do not understand all of it, but it is unfolding to me, almost daily, and sometimes moment to moment. So if you want to throw stones at those believing in dominion, make sure you are certain of what brand they are speaking of, and oh yeah, check again and see if the Father is calling you to stone anyone. (I would suppose not).
Rabu, 15 Oktober 2008
Don't Let the Devil Eat Your Lunch!
by Lee Grady (Charisma Editor) www.themordecaiproject.com
In this season of spiritual shaking and financial uncertainty, we must press into the secret place of praise in order to overcome discouragement.
I’m a big fan of newspapers, but I haven’t enjoyed reading mine lately. The news has been intensely negative for the last few months. Plus, the number of advertising pages is shrinking because of the economic crisis. So when I picked up my very thin copy of the Orlando Sentinel today, I had to search hard to find anything positive. (I am happy, of course, that the Florida Gators crushed the Tennessee Volunteers over the weekend!)
On today’s front page, one article explained how the economic downturn is affecting kids. Psychologists are warning parents not to talk about job loss, foreclosures or high gas prices in front of their children because they may internalize fears, causing them to lose sleep or fail classes. Experts call this phenomenon “trickle down anxiety."
That anxiety is trickling everywhere today. How do you deal with it?
“I believe the book of Psalms is in the middle of the Bible because praise must be at the core of the Christian life.”
When discouragement hits me, I know I must fight back immediately. If I wallow in my sorrow or entertain my fears, the devil steals my joy and robs me of the strength I need to serve God faithfully. I’ve made a list of the seven most common things that tend to drag us down:
1. Difficulties. When circumstances don’t go our way, our emotional reaction to the pressure can cause severe stress and even sickness. Whether it’s a devastating hurricane, a family conflict, a wayward teenager or a bankruptcy, a trial can break us if we allow it to.
2. Disappointment. Many Christians become discouraged when they struggle unsuccessfully to overcome sinful habits. The enemy of our souls whispers, “You’ll never stop doing that.” Then he throws more temptation our way and lures us into defeat.
3. Dismay. The dictionary defines this as “a sudden and complete loss of courage because of danger or trouble.” Fear is the greatest enemy of faith. It has the power to paralyze.
4. Death. I have two friends, both ministers, who lost their sons recently in car accidents. Both young men were strong Christians, so their parents at least have the assurance that their boys are with the Lord. But this does not take away the grief. Often, the death of a loved one can trap us in depression.
5. Delays. God gave me some promises a long time ago that have not been fulfilled. As birthdays tick by, I’m tempted to think He’s playing tricks on me. When promises elude us or expectations dry up, we question if God really promised anything or if He changed His mind.
6. Daggers. I get lots of angry letters from people who don’t like something I wrote. Last week, in fact, a person who identified himself as a Christian said he hoped I would “roast in hell” and then described my spiritual condition in profane terms. Normally those kinds of off-the-wall comments don’t affect me, since I know hate mail is part of my job. But if I’m fighting discouragement on some other level and my guard is down, toxic criticism feels like a kick in the groin.
7. Darkness. Demonic opposition is invisible, but it is real. In August I preached in a city in Bolivia where the people practice witchcraft and worship frogs. When my friends and I arrived we were greeted by a row of 10 huge sculptures of the devil, all on proud display along the main avenue. The images didn’t scare me, but there was a heavy blanket of oppression over the entire place that made me feel like catching the next plane home. Thankfully I ignored the feelings and preached anyway—and several people became Christians that night.
So how do we resist discouragement? I believe we must learn King David’s strategy. We must run to the secret place.
When David returned to Ziklag and discovered that the Amalekites had raided his camp and kidnapped all the women and children, he was probably tempted to give up. He had lost everything—and his own men were threatening to stone him. Yet the Bible says: “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Sam. 30:6, NASB).
How did he do that? We only need to turn to the middle of our Bibles—the book of Psalms—to read what David did when he spent time with God.
I believe the book of Psalms is in the middle of the Bible because praise is at the core of the Christian life. Praise was certainly at the heart of who David was. God’s presence was the “one thing” he sought above all else (see Ps. 27:4).
David wrote: “For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock” (Ps. 27:5). To effectively encourage yourself in God, you must find the secret place, shut the door to all distractions and speak to God until the heaviness has lifted.
David was not reserved when He shut himself away with God. He prayed, sang, shouted, clapped his hands and danced. And he talked to himself. He said with confidence: “Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I will be confident” (27:3).
We normally think it strange when someone talks to himself. But the Bible actually encourages us to do so when we are praising the Lord. If you are fighting discouragement, one of the best things you can do is hide yourself in a room and begin to tell God how awesome He is. If you can’t sing well, put on some lively praise music and follow along. The important thing is that you open your mouth and speak—because by doing so you are canceling the enemy’s lies.
Many Christians only praise God in church once a week. No wonder so many of us are spiritually frail. We’ve also lost the art of true biblical confession. When our souls have been overwhelmed by bad news, we must counteract by declaring our faith out loud.
After David spent time in the secret place, he said confidently: “And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy” (27:6). Praise, when it is uninhibited, has incredible power. It paves the way for breakthrough. It cuts the cords of fear and anxiety. It unleashes holy joy and pulls us out of the pit of depression. It scatters demonic darkness.
Don’t give the devil an advantage in this day of adversity. If you are facing difficulties, disappointments, delays or any other discouraging circumstances, remember the priority of praise.
Minggu, 12 Oktober 2008
Dinah's Silent Cry
by Lee Grady (Charisma Editor) www.themordecaiproject.com
When Jesus visited the woman at the well in Samaria, He opened a fountain of healing that still flows today.
Thousands of years ago, the beautiful daughter of a biblical patriarch wandered into Canaanite territory without any clue that she was stepping into a nightmare. The Bible says that Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, was raped that day by Shechem, a local prince (see Gen. 34:1-2).
We never hear Dinah’s screams or muffled sobs. In fact we never hear the voice of Dinah in Scripture. Shechem tried to bargain for her hand in marriage after he stole her virginity, but Jacob’s sons deceitfully plotted to kill him and his brothers for his act of defilement. One rape resulted in wholesale slaughter.
But the bloody act of revenge did not bring healing or restoration to Dinah. She was most likely shut away for the rest of her life, since women who had been raped in those days were considered unclean and unmarriageable. The rape was not her fault—but she bore the guilt.
“The world—and often the church—is not willing to visit the place of abuse. But we have a Savior who broke cultural and religious rules to bring His miraculous healing there.”
Dinah’s silence is deafening. She represents the tragic loss of innocence endured by all those who have been sexually abused. She became the prototype of all women who have been violated—and then blamed and shamed as if it were their fault.
What is most interesting about Dinah’s story is the setting—a dusty plot of ground in Israel that would later be part of Samaria. The site of Dinah’s rape was near the piece of land that Jacob had previously purchased from Shechem’s father, Hamor (see Gen. 33:18-20). We don’t read much more in the Bible about that awful place—until the Son of God arrives on the scene in the New Testament.
It is truly amazing that Jesus was willing to visit that unholy site. During His ministry, no rabbi in Israel would dare go near it. Rabbis took the long road around Samaria to avoid mixing with its people.
Yet the Bible says Jesus marched right into Samaria and sat down at a well, located on the plot of ground that Jacob had purchased centuries earlier (see John 4:4-6). There, Jesus broke every religious rule in Jewish rabbinical tradition by speaking with a divorced woman about theological issues in a public place.
We don’t know the Samaritan woman’s name, but I am sure she was familiar with what had happened so long ago in that land. All women in that region probably whispered to each other within their tents about Dinah’s tragic legacy as they shared their own stories of abandonment, abuse and mistreatment.
But something miraculous began to unfold when the Son of God set foot on that defiled ground.
After He spoke tenderly to the Samaritan woman, telling her of the water of life that comes from the true Messiah, He looked into her tormented soul and drained out the pain she had endured from men who had misused her.
“Go, call your husband and come here,” Jesus told her. She threw up her defenses and protested, saying that she did not have a husband.
Jesus lovingly replied: “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband” (John 4:16-18, NASB).
Jesus was not wagging His finger in the woman’s face or shaming her desperate behavior. He understood her anguish. Most likely she had been abused and abandoned by five men in a row, and by the time the last man threw her out of the house she had no self-esteem left. The sixth man did not even have the decency to marry her.
But on that day in Samaria, the dark clouds that had cast a heavy pall over all women in that region parted. The seventh man had arrived! Jesus was willing to go to that forsaken place, and He identified fully with the pain of abused women. He offered the Samaritan woman not only total freedom from her guilt—but also the boldness to share her story of redemption with an entire village at a time when women did not speak in public.
Do you see the amazing grace and mercy of God at work here? Jesus answered Dinah’s cry.
The world—and often the church—is not willing to visit the place of abuse. We sweep the pain under a rug and ignore the victims. But we have a Savior who broke cultural and religious rules to bring His miraculous healing there.
If you have suffered any form of abuse, or if you still struggle with its shame, then go to Jacob’s well. Jesus is waiting there to give you pure, living water that will cleanse your past, restore lost purity and satisfy your deepest thirst.
Selasa, 07 Oktober 2008
How to Guard Yourself Against Spiritual Deception
by A.W. Tozer
THESE ARE THE TIMES THAT TRY MEN'S SOULS.
The Spirit has spoken expressly that in the latter times some should depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Those days are upon us and we cannot escape them; we must triumph in the midst of them, for such is the will of God concerning us.
Strange as it may seem, the danger today is greater for the fervent Christian than for the lukewarm and the self-satisfied.
THE SEEKER AFTER GOD'S BEST THINGS
IS EAGER TO HEAR ANYONE
WHO OFFERS A WAY BY WHICH HE CAN OBTAIN THEM.
He longs for some new experience, some elevated view of truth, some operation of the Spirit that will raise him above the dead level of religious mediocrity he sees all around him, and for this reason he is ready to give a sympathetic ear to the new and the wonderful in religion, particularly if it is presented by someone with an attractive personality and a reputation for superior godliness.
Now our Lord Jesus. that great Shepherd of the sheep, has not left His flock to the mercy of the wolves. He has given us the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and natural powers of observation, and He expects us to avail ourselves of their help constantly.
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good," said Paul
(I Thess. 5:21) .
"Beloved, believe not every spirit," wrote John, "but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I John 4:1)
"Beware of false prophets," our Lord warned, "which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matt. 7:15).
Then He added the word by which they may be tested,
"YE SHALL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUITS."
From this it is plain not only that there shall be false spirits abroad, endangering our Christian lives, but that they may be identified and known for what they are. And of course once we become aware of their identity and learn their tricks their power to harm us is gone.
"Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird"
IT IS MY INTENTION TO SET FORTH HERE A METHOD BY WHICH WE MAY TEST THE SPIRITS AND PROVE ALL THINGS RELIGIOUS AND MORAL THAT COME TO US OR ARE BROUGHT OR OFFERED TO US BY ANYONE.
And while dealing with these matters we should keep in mind that not all religious vagaries are the work of Satan. The human mind is capable of plenty of mischief without any help from the devil. Some persons have a positive genius for getting confused, and will mistake illusion for reality in broad daylight with the Bible open before them.
Peter had such in mind when he wrote,
"Our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction" (II Pet. 3:15, 16).
IT IS UNLIKELY THAT THE CONFIRMED APOSTLES OF CONFUSION
WILL READ WHAT IS WRITTEN HERE
or that they would profit much if they did; but there are many sensible Christians who have been led astray but are humble enough to admit their mistakes and are now ready to return unto the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls. These may be rescued from false paths. More important still, there are undoubtedly large numbers of persons who have not left the true way but who want a rule by which they can test everything and by which they may prove the quality of Christian teaching and experience as they come in contact with them day after day throughout their busy lives. For such as these I make available here a little secret by which I have tested my own spiritual experiences and religious impulses for many years.
BRIEFLY STATED THE TEST IS THIS:
THIS NEW DOCTRINE, THIS NEW RELIGIOUS HABIT, THIS NEW VIEW OF TRUTH, THIS NEW SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE - HOW HAS IT AFFECTED MY ATTITUDE TOWARD AND MY RELATION TO GOD, CHRIST, THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, SELF, OTHER CHRISTIANS, THE WORLD AND SIN.
By this sevenfold test we may prove everything religious and know beyond a doubt whether it is of God or not. By the fruit of the tree we know the kind of tree it is. So we have but to ask about any doctrine or experience, What is this doing to me? and we know immediately whether it is from above or from below.
1) ONE VITAL TEST OF ALL RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE IS HOW IT AFFECTS OUR RELATION TO GOD, OUR CONCEPT OF GOD AND OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD HIM.
God being who He is must always be the supreme arbiter of all things religious. The universe came into existence as a medium through which the Creator might show forth His perfections to all moral and intellectual beings: "I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another" (Isa. 42: 8) . "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11).
The health and balance of the universe require that in all things God should be magnified. "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable." God acts only for His glory and whatever comes from Him must be to His own high honor. Any doctrine, any experience that serves to magnify Him is likely to be inspired by Him. Conversely, anything that veils His glory or makes Him appear less wonderful is sure to be of the flesh or the devil.
The heart of man is like a musical instrument and may be played upon by the Holy Spirit, by an evil spirit or by the spirit of man himself. Religious emotions are very much the same, no matter who the player may be. Many enjoyable feelings may be aroused within the soul by low or even idolatrous worship. The nun who kneels "breathless with adoration" before an image of the Virgin is having a genuine religious experience. She feels love, awe and reverence, all enjoyable emotions, as certainly as if she were adoring God. The mystical experiences of Hindus and Sufis cannot be brushed aside as mere pretense. Neither dare we dismiss the high religious flights of spiritists and other occultists as imagination. These may have and sometimes do have genuine encounters with something or someone beyond themselves. In the same manner Christians are sometimes led into emotional experiences that are beyond their power to comprehend. I have met such and they have inquired eagerly whether or not their experience was of God.
The big test is, What has this done to my relationship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? If this new view of truth-this new encounter with spiritual things-has made me love God more, if it has magnified Him in my eyes, if it has purified my concept of His being and caused Him to appear more wonderful than before, then I may conclude that I have not wandered astray into the pleasant but dangerous and forbidden paths of error.
2. THE NEXT TEST IS: HOW HAS THIS NEW EXPERIENCE AFFECTED MY
ATTITUDE TOWARD THE LORD JESUS CHRIST?
Whatever place present-day religion may give to Christ, God gives Him top place in earth and in heaven. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," spoke the voice of God from heaven concerning our Lord Jesus. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, declared: "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).
Jesus said of Himself, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Again Peter said of Him, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12) .
The whole book of Hebrews is devoted to the idea that Christ is above all others. He is shown to be above Aaron and Moses, and even the angels are called to fall down and worship Him. Paul says that He is the image of the invisible God, that in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily and that in all things He must have the preeminence. But time would fail me to tell of the glory accorded Him by prophets, patriarchs, apostles, saints, elders, psalmists, kings and seraphim. He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. He is our hope, our life, our all and all, now and forevermore.
All this being true, it is clear that He must stand at the center of all true doctrine, all acceptable practice and all genuine Christian experience. Anything that makes Him less than God has declared Him to be is delusion pure and simple and must be rejected, no matter how delightful or how satisfying it may for the time seem to be.
Christless Christianity sounds contradictory but it exists as a real phenomenon in our day. Much that is being done in Christ's name is false to Christ in that it is conceived by the flesh, incorporates fleshly methods, and seeks fleshly ends. Christ is mentioned from time to time in the same way and for the same reason that a self-seeking politician mentions Lincoln and the flag, to provide a sacred front for carnal activities and to deceive the simplehearted listeners.
This giveaway is that Christ is not central: He is not all and in all.
Again, there are psychic experiences that thrill the seeker and lead him to believe that he has indeed met the Lord and been carried to the third heaven; but the true nature of the phenomenon is discovered later when the face of Christ begins to fade from the victim's consciousness and he comes to depend more and more upon emotional jags as a proof of his spirituality.
If on the other hand the new experience tends to make Christ indispensable, if it takes our interest off our feeling and places it in Christ, we are on the right track. Whatever makes Christ dear to us is pretty sure to be from God.
3. ANOTHER REVEALING TEST OF THE SOUNDNESS OF RELIGIOUS
EXPERIENCE IS, HOW DOES IT AFFECT MY ATTITUDE TOWARD THE HOLY
Did this new experience, this new view of truth, spring out of the Word of God itself or was it the result of some stimulus that lay outside the Bible? Tender-hearted Christians often become victims of strong psychological pressure applied intentionally or innocently by someone's personal testimony, or by a colorful story told by a fervent preacher who may speak with prophetic finality but who has not checked his story with the facts nor tested the soundness of his conclusions by the Word of God.
Whatever originates outside the Scriptures should for that very reason be suspect until it can be shown to be in accord with them. If it should be found to be contrary to the Word of revealed truth no true Christian will accept it as being from God. However high the emotional content, no experience can be proved to be genuine unless we can find chapter and verse authority for it in the Scriptures. "To the word and to the testimony" must always be the last and final proof.
Whatever is new or singular should also be viewed with a lot of caution until it can furnish scriptural proof of its validity. Over the last half-century quite a number of unscriptural notions have gained acceptance among Christians by claiming that they were among the truths that were to be revealed in the last days. To be sure, say the advocates of this latter-daylight theory, Augustine did not know, Luther did not, John Knox, Wesley, Finney and Spurgeon did not understand this; but greater light has now shined upon God's people and we of these last days have the advantage of fuller revelation. We should not question the new doctrine nor draw back from this advanced experience. The Lord is getting His Bride ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb. We should all yield to this new movement of the Spirit. So they tell us.
The truth is that the Bible does not teach that there will be new light and advanced spiritual experiences in the latter days; it teaches the exact opposite. Nothing in Daniel or the New Testament epistles can be tortured into advocating the idea that we of the end of the Christian era shall enjoy light that was not known at its beginning. Beware of any man who claims to be wiser than the apostles or holier than the martyrs of the Early Church. The best way to deal with him is to rise and leave his presence. You cannot help him and he surely cannot help you.
Granted, however, that the Scriptures may not always be clear and that there are differences of interpretation among equally sincere men, this test will furnish all the proof needed of anything religious, viz., What does it do to my love for and appreciation of the Scriptures?
While true power lies not in the letter of the text but in the Spirit that inspired it, we should never underestimate the value of the letter. The text of truth has the same relation to truth as the honeycomb has to honey. One serves as a receptacle for the other. But there the analogy ends. The honey can be removed from the comb, but the Spirit of truth cannot and does not operate apart from the letter of the Holy Scriptures.
For this reason a growing acquaintance with the Holy Spirit will always mean an increasing love for the Bible. The Scriptures are in print what Christ is in person. The inspired Word is like a faithful portrait of Christ. But again the figure breaks down. Christ is in the Bible as no one can be in a mere portrait, for the Bible is a book of holy ideas and the eternal Word of the Father can and does dwell in the thought He has Himself inspired. Thoughts are things, and the thoughts of the Holy Scriptures form a lofty temple for the dwelling place of God.
From this it follows naturally that a true lover of God will be also a lover of His Word. Anything that comes to us from the God of the Word will deepen our love for the Word of God. This follows logically, but we have confirmation by a witness vastly more trustworthy than logic, viz., the concerted testimony of a great army of witnesses living and dead. These declare with one voice that their love for the Scriptures intensified as their faith mounted and their obedience became consistent and joyous.
IF THE NEW DOCTRINE, THE INFLUENCE OF THAT NEW TEACHER, THE NEW EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE FILLS MY HEART WITH AN AVID HUNGER TO MEDITATE IN THE SCRIPTURES DAY AND NIGHT. I HAVE EVERY REASON TO BELIEVE THAT GOD HAS SPOKEN TO MY SOUL AND THAT MY EXPERIENCE IS GENUINE.
CONVERSELY, IF MY LOVE FOR THE SCRIPTURES HAS COOLED EVEN A LITTLE, IF MY EAGERNESS TO EAT AND DRINK OF THE INSPIRED WORD HAS ABATED BY AS MUCH AS ONE DEGREE, I SHOULD HUMBLY ADMIT THAT I HAVE MISSED GOD'S SIGNAL SOMEWHERE AND FRANKLY BACKTRACK UNTIL I FIND THE TRUE WAY ONCE MORE.
4. AGAIN, WE CAN PROVE THE QUALITY OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
BY ITS EFFECT ON THE SELF-LIFE.
The Holy Spirit and the fallen human self are diametrically opposed to each other. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Gal. 5:17). "They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit . . . . Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8: 5, 7).
Before the Spirit of God can work creatively in our hearts He must condemn and slay the "flesh" within us; that is, He must have our full consent to displace our natural self with the Person of Christ. This displacement is carefully explained in Romans 6, 7,and 8. When the seeking Christian has gone through the crucifying experience described in chapters 6 and 7 he enters into the broad, free regions of chapter 8. There self is dethroned and Christ is enthroned forever.
In the light of this it is not hard to see why the Christian's attitude toward self is such an excellent test of the validity of his religious experiences.
Most of the great masters of the deeper life, such as Fenelon. Molinos, John of the Cross, Madame Guyon and a host, of others, have warned against pseudoreligious experiences that provide much carnal enjoyment but feel the flesh and puff up the heart with self-love.
A GOOD RULE IS THIS: IF THIS EXPERIENCE HAS SERVED TO HUMBLE ME AND MAKE ME LITTLE AND VILE IN MY OWN EYES IT IS OF GOD; BUT IF IT HAS GIVEN ME A FEELING OF SELF-SATISFACTION IT IS FALSE AND SHOULD BE DISMISSED AS EMANATING FROM SELF OR THE DEVIL. NOTHING THAT COMES FROM GOD WILL MINISTER TO MY PRIDE OR SELF-CONGRATULATION.
Nothing that comes from God will minister to my pride or self-congratulation.
If I am tempted to be complacent and to feel superior because I have had a remarkable vision or an advanced spiritual experience, I should go at once to my knees and repent of the whole thing. I have fallen a victim to the enemy.
5. OUR RELATION TO AND OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD OUR FELLOW CHRISTIANS IS ANOTHER ACCURATE TEST OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE.
Sometimes an earnest Christian will, after some remarkable spiritual encounter, withdraw himself from his fellow believers and develop a spirit of faultfinding. He may be honestly convinced that his experience is superior, that he is now in an advanced state of grace, and that the hoi polloi in the church where he attends are but a mixed multitude and he alone a true son of Israel. He may struggle to be patient with these religious worldlings, but his soft language and condescending smile reveal his true opinion of them-and of himself.
This is a dangerous state of mind, and the more dangerous because it can justify itself by the facts. The brother has had a remarkable experience; he has received some wonderful light on the Scriptures; he has entered into a joyous land unknown to him before. And it may easily be true that the professed Christians with whom he is acquainted are worldly and dull and without spiritual enthusiasm. It is not that he is mistaken in his facts that proves him to be in error, but that his reaction to the facts is of the flesh. His new spirituality has made him less charitable.
The Lady Julian tells us in her quaint English how true Christian grace affects our attitude toward others: "For of all things the beholding and loving of the Maker maketh the soul to seem less in his own sight, and most filleth him with reverent dread and true meekness; with plenty of charity to his fellow Christians." Any religious experience that fails to deepen our love for our fellow Christians may safely be written off as spurious.
The Apostle John makes love for our fellow Christians to be a test of true faith. "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him" (I John 3:18, 19).
Again he says, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (I John 4:7, 8).
AS WE GROW IN GRACE WE GROW IN LOVE TOWARD ALL GOD'S PEOPLE.
"Every one that loveth him that begot loveth him also that is begotten of him" (I John 5:1) . This means simply that if we love God we will love His children. All true Christian experience will deepen our love for other Christians.
Therefore we conclude that whatever tends to separate us in person or in heart from our fellow Christians is not of God, but is of the flesh or of the devil. And conversely, whatever causes us to love the children of God is likely to be of God. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).
6. ANOTHER CERTAIN TEST OF THE SOURCE OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE IS THIS: NOTE HOW IT AFFECTS OUR RELATION TO AND OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD THE WORLD.
By "the world" I do not mean, of course, the beautiful order of nature which God has created for the enjoyment of mankind. Neither do I mean the world of lost men in the sense used by our Lord when He said, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved"
(John 3:16, 17).
Certainly any true touch of God in the soul will deepen our appreciation of the beauties of nature and intensify our love for the lost. I refer here to something else altogether.
Let an apostle say it for us:
"All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (I John 2:16, 17) .
THIS IS THE WORLD BY WHICH WE MAY TEST THE SPIRITS. IT IS THE WORLD OF CARNAL ENJOYMENTS, OF GODLESS PLEASURES, OF THE PURSUIT OF EARTHLY RICHES AND REPUTATION AND SINFUL HAPPINESS.
It carries on without Christ, following the counsel of the ungodly and being animated by the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience (Eph. 2: 2) . Its religion is a form of godliness, without power, which has a name to live but is dead. It is, in short, unregenerate human society romping on its way to hell, the exact opposite of the true Church of God, which is a society of regenerate souls going soberly but joyfully on their way to heaven.
ANY REAL WORK OF GOD IN OUR HEART
WILL TEND TO UNFIT US FOR THE WORLD'S FELLOWSHIP.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15).
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
and what communion hath light with darkness?" (II Cor. 6:140)
IT MAY BE STATED UNEQUIVOCALLY;
THAT ANY SPIRIT THAT PERMITS COMPROMISE WITH THE WORLD…
…IS A FALSE SPIRIT.
Any religious movement that imitates the world in any of its manifestations is false to the cross of Christ and on the side of the devil and this regardless of how much purring its leaders may do about "accepting Christ" or "letting God run your business."
7. THE LAST TEST OF THE GENUINENESS OF CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE IS WHAT IT DOES TO OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD SIN.
The operations of grace within the heart of a believing man will turn that heart away from sin and toward holiness. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Tit. 2:11-13) .
I do not see how it could be plainer. The same grace that saves teaches that saved man inwardly, and its teaching is both negative and positive. Negatively it teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Positively it teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly right in this present world.
THE MAN OF HONEST HEART WILL FIND NO DIFFICULTY HERE.
He has but to check his own bent to discover whether he is concerned about sin in his life more or less since the supposed work of grace was done. Anything that weakens his hatred of sin may be identified immediately as false to the Scriptures, to the Saviour and to his own soul. Whatever makes holiness more attractive and sin more intolerable may be accepted as genuine.
"For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness:
neither shall evil dwell with thee.
The foolish shall not stand in thy sight:
thou hatest all workers of iniquity"
(Psa. 5: 4, 5).
Jesus warned, "There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect." These words describe our day too well to be coincidental. In the hope that the "elect" may profit by them I have set forth these tests.
The result is in the hand of God.
Sabtu, 04 Oktober 2008
I Am Well Pleased!
by Robert Ricciardelli www.vision2advance.com
When you are walking through the darkest of days, I am there. Listen for My voice, and expect me to communicate to you in ways you have yet to realize. I have not left you and continue to speak of my Love for you. There are times and there are seasons. But in each season, I demonstrate my glory through each of my people in different and unique ways. You just have to need to know what I desire for you. Some may be reaping abundance in this season while others may be experiencing lessons from my wilderness training. Some will be sowing tears, some will be sowing love, but remember that there will be a harvest in your life. There will be reaping just ahead for you. Be mindful of the sowing, and not too concerned with the reaping that will surely come.
Do not look to where others are, look to where I have you, and where I am leading you. I have each of you in my care and will do something special in each of your lives. You will not miss it, you do not need to look far for Truth, because Truth has found you, and Truth is in you. When you are relying on Me for daily bread, do not despair, and be thankful for all things. Abundance does not prove greater love, and lack does not prove lesser love from ME.
I have a plan for you, and it is a very good plan, even if you do not understand the experiences you have lived through, or are going through now. My ways cannot be interpreted by man, but always have the end in mind, LOVE. Your journey towards the image of my Son has been planned before you took your first step. You may only see the very next step, and no more until that step has been taken. If you do not see the step, wait until it is revealed. I am not in any hurry for you, we have eternity you know. Be still and Know I AM with you, and will quicken you for the move for us. When you move, I move with you, when you are still, I am still with you. Your obedience brings me great joy, and my joy becomes your strength. You cannot find strength outside of Me for the destiny I have for you.
There is a reason for what you are going through, although you may not see it while you are going through. I am teaching you through all of it, if you will seek after me for My message, My perception, and My glory. Remember you can fail, make mistakes, and yet never lose in life, because you are in Me and I in you.
You do not need to seek after other anointings, for the Anointed One is in you. You do not need to hear from others as I am speaking to you, and you can hear My voice. I have prophetic servants who will confirm my voice, but I desire to talk to you directly and it is important that you hear Me, and follow after Me for your life. Be very careful when listening to others, because they cannot know what I have intentioned for you. Mary did not know what I had intentioned for My Son. They may have good intentions, but they will often not be My intentions, and so listen for My voice. You must not entrust your lives in the hands of men, you must not chase after the ways and devises of men. But as you seek me and my Kingdom, you will have all you need for I AM all you need.
Look at every tragedy as part of the journey, for it is part of the journey. No man or woman of God who has given me pleasure has ever escaped tragedy in this life. In this world, you will face challenges and adversity, but in Me you have peace, because I am with you and nothing you have gone through has ever caught me by surprise. Nothing you are going through and have gone through has ever escaped my notice.
My church has been looking for the next thing, the next experience, instead of Me. They look after a sign, they create their own signs, and all the while they have looked for the wrong thing. Do not look for the created thing, but look only towards the Creator. I AM the former thing, I AM the present thing, and I AM the future thing that desires to consume your every thought and focus. I want to encompass you with My life, My love, and My peace. Be careful not to be derailed off of the plan and vision I have given you. But when you stumble off the path of My plan, you are only one step, one shout away from being on the Right track again. Know that I love you, am for you, and will be successful in bringing you through. I have never failed any of My children, and I will never fail you. You will never fail to complete My journey for you, as you live in Me and for Me.
I absolutely love you in the process you are in. You are My ambassador, you are My love, you are My light to the world. You do not need to seek a time and place of revival, for I AM revival, and therefore in ME, You are revival in the earth...
As more of my children die to self and live in Me, then my revival children will become a lighthouse of My Love to the world. You will be a safe harbor in a world of turbulence. I will continue to be revealed on earth through your life and in everyday living. When I say that in ME you live, you move, and have your being, believe it, know it, and walk in it. Watch my glory unfold, watch the miraculous happen all around you, in everyday living. My Son walked in this and many things happened “along the way”. Expect things to happen along your way, as you live in My way.
Remember this as you go forward in whatever process that you are in, do not let other voices of the past and present, and even your own voice deceive you. You are precious to Me regardless of what you have done, regardless of where you or others think you are. Remember it is always Who you are to Me, and not what you do. You please me not in perfection, not in your worship, but in your being, because I see the end that you cannot see. I will take obedience over sacrifice every time.
I am pleased in your process, and you are right where I want you to be if you faint not. Do not ever give up in this journey, it is well worth it. Humility, repentance, selflessness, obedience, and love are the keys to living in Kingdom reality. Move quickly as I present opportunities to be humble, to repent, to die to self, to obey, and to love in a supernatural way. These opportunities to walk in My nature will expedite my training for you into the image of My Son. But in all things, remember this, I Am Your Father, and my eternal message for you is "You are my child in whom I am well pleased".