Archive for April, 2019

God’s Spiritual Filter

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil (I Thessalonians 5:21–22, KJV).

The Word as Our Filter

We spend a lot of time investing in our physical health; however, we need to do the same with our spiritual health. As the Spirit gives us life in this world, it’s vitally important to keep our spiritual health in check. God has given us many tools to help us navigate the plans, decisions, and thoughts we make every day to stay spiritually healthy. Of these tools, His Word (Scripture) specifically is a “working filter” we can use to live our our lives.

Three Steps to Filtering Our Spiritual Life

We’re given 3 easy steps to filter our spiritual life: test everything, keep what’s good, and throw away what’s not.

Test Everything

It doesn’t take a lot of wrong to destroy everything that’s right. This is why it’s important to test everything and filter out the small things that can upset our full spiritual health. Anything that isn’t good can damage our spirit and have eternal impacts. Jesus gave an object lesson to His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. He explained that small things (e.g., rites, rituals, etc.) taught by the Pharisees would ruin the significance and impact of the whole law (Galatians 5:9).

When we make decisions and don’t consider the spiritual outcome (testing everything), this is evidence of spiritual immaturity. Because of our poor decisions, we find ourselves in trials and hard times, and we go to God to fix it. When we desire something without knowledge, we miss God’s will in our life (Proverbs 19:2). We must realize many natural things have spiritual consequences; therefore, we must test everything and prove all things.

Jephthah’s Lost Ground

You can lose spiritual ground by failing to test everything. Consider the story of Jephthah in Judges 11. His story was one of redemption; he was favored by God and thrived as a leader. However, despite the positive aspects of his life, he’s remembered for his one, foolish decision. He vowed to sacrifice to God the first thing that met him at the gate of his home if he returned victorious in battle. Because of his hasty vow, he lost his only daughter; he lost spiritual ground. When we make decisions about our home or livelihood, we need to test everything. Check it against the Word of God and consider the impacts.

Saul’s Missed Victory

We can also miss spiritual victories by failing to test everything. In another Scriptural example, King Saul, in an effort to avenge his enemies, told everyone to fast from food and liquid. Failure to do so would result in a curse (I Samuel 14:24). But, Jonathan, his son, didn’t hear him, and ate honey to regain strength because he felt faint after extended travel and numerous battles (I Samuel 14:29–30). When later discovering Saul’s vow, he noted the poor nature of his words. If the men were allowed to eat and revive themselves,  Israel would have experienced a greater victory. When we fail to test our decisions, we’ll miss God’s best for us. If we’re in a the middle of a conflict, we need to guard against impulsive statements.

Keep What’s Good

How do we know what’s good to keep and what’s bad to discard? Up front, the Spirit will lead us to understand what’s good (I Thessalonians 5:21). But, we need to go to the source. What does God consider good? He called His creation, praise, and unity good, among other things. If we want God to call our actions, thoughts, and behaviors “good,” everything needs to be put through the “good” filter and discard what isn’t. A point of measurement and criterion for “good” things are found in God’s Word. We know what we’re doing is good when it honors God (II Timothy 2:21), feels right in the Holy Ghost (Acts 15:28), and lastly, when God’s Word confirms it (Psalms 119:9).

Throw Away What’s Not Good

We discard what isn’t good from our life as well as keep far away (abstain) from it (I Thessalonians 5:22). There are times we just need to take out the spiritual garbage in our life. There’s a time to cast away and refrain from embracing everything. Some things should never agree with us, or be classified s “good,” because we are the temple of the living God (II Corinthians 6:16). God has different standards defined for His people. We’re told to come out from the world (what’s not good) and be separate (stay with the good). When we use the Word of God as our filter, we’ll find things in our life that don’t belong. The Spirit will help us purge out the bad and stay away from it! He will give us the strength and power to overcome!

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on April 24, 2019 with Pastor Nave

Supernatural Strength

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

I came across an article the other day, with an incredible story. It wasn’t the first time I’ve stumbled upon a tale such as this. This anecdote noted how a human being was transformed into vessel that defied every law of nature in the face of danger. A man had lifted a 3,000-pound Camaro off a bicyclist—with his bare hands.

How is that possible? The world record for the most weight ever deadlifted was 1,155 pounds. That Camaro weighed twice as much! Psychologists note our fear response systems unbridle hidden mental and physical abilities, allowing many gross-motor skills to peak under stress and extreme pressure. This is fascinating to me! But, does super-human strength only come in the face of fear and stress?

And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel (I Kings 18:44–46, KJV).

Elijah had prophesied the lack of rain for 3 years. When the time came for God to reopen the heavens, Elijah instructed his servant to tell king Ahab to get his chariot together and head to Jezreel. There was a storm coming like none other and Elijah didn’t want this to hinder Ahab’s journey.

When the storm clouds broke loose, rain poured down. If you can imagine the strength and vigor of a massive rainstorm, this rain—pent up for 3 years—was more powerful than anything we’ve ever seen.

In the middle of this storm, something tremendous happened. God’s anointing came upon Elijah, giving him supernatural strength, and he took off running after Ahab to Jezreel. In the pouring rain, creating unbelievable resistance, along with possible winds, standing water, and sloshing mud, God gave Elijah the ability to outrun Ahab in his chariot. He made it to the entrance of Jezreel nearly 20 miles away.

You could argue that Elijah’s gross-motor skills went into “peak” fight-or-flight mode in the face of the storm. But, this rain was God-given—there was no need to be afraid. God had given Elijah supernatural-ability, going well beyond natural human ability, to run to Jezreel. Why? Because Ahab had just witnessed the hand of God on Mount Carmel where He had answered Elijah’s prayer by fire. Elijah had proven that Baal was a false god, and all should worship the One, true God.

Elijah followed Ahab back to Jezreel to ensure he didn’t lose faith in what he had just seen. He had to stay strong against the opposition that would soon come through his idol-worshipping wife, Jezebel. No storm, no spirit, and no woman would to stop the mighty hand of the Lord.

I’m thankful God has created humans to operate in supernatural abilities in the face of danger, but I’m even more grateful that God moves upon us with a supernatural hand to complete the work of His Kingdom. It’s God’s supernatural anointing that allows preachers to deliver God’s Word daily during 18-week revivals, or how Saints make it through a work day after an all-night prayer meeting.

Whatever your hand finds to do for God’s Kingdom, you can do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10). It won’t be your strength, but the supernatural strength from the Lord (Zechariah 4:6)!

Easter Makes a Difference

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Watch Service Online

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen… (Luke 24:1–6, KJV).

A Little Birdie Told Me

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

I recently started a new role in my organization, and the news met many coworkers and friends by surprise. Limited communications were distributed about this change; however, news spread relatively quickly through the best communication channel known to man—word of mouth.

Walking down a corridor the other day, a colleague I hadn’t seen for a while stopped me. She exclaimed in a hushed tone, “A little birdie told me that you recently changed jobs!” A smile crested my face and I closed my eyes to conceal the hilarity I found in the comment. Honestly, I wanted to bust out laughing. How can one avoid snickering? The phrase “a little birdie” only tries to mask the real truth—that birdie is in fact human and most definitely has a name. Somewhere, someone overheard a conversation, or was told information in person, and felt compelled to pass that information on. What a birdie…

The air is the information highway to anything and everything uttered by our lips. Once spoken, words take wings and rematerialize—mostly at inopportune times:

Moreover, do not curse the king, even in your bedroom, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry the sound and a winged creature will make the matter known (Ecclesiastes 10:20, AMP).

Firstly, I’m amazed mankind didn’t come up with the “birdie” axiom. It’s been in God’s Word since before the world began. However, we’re warned that our words—good or bad—have the power to take flight. They don’t stay confined to our situation, location, initial audience, or lack thereof.

For example, if you speak ill of anyone to another person, it will be revealed somehow in the future. The person you confided in may extend that confidence with another person or the exact person from whom you were trying to conceal the information. The reveal may come hours, days, weeks, or years into the future. Remember, the wings of a bird can float on the air as long as it’s alive!

Truthfully, we can’t confiscate our words once spoken. We never know the harm they can have on another person or situation—there’s life and death in the tongue! One comment has the power to influence numerous individuals and make an impact that lasts for generations. Most importantly, we don’t consider the harm those very words (or curses) can have.

In our chamber, we also fail to consider the invisible audience eavesdropping on every word. The devil and his minions are everywhere, listening to our gripes and griefs, ticks and tolerances, as well as fears and fantasies. These are sounds we don’t want any birdie emulating to anyone or be used in any event. However, if we’re not careful, our words will be carried and made known at the wrong times and fabricated into unwanted circumstances.

Don’t like it when Sister So-and-So says such-and-such to you? Your gripe mentioned behind closed doors will be carried via birdie to that sister. She’ll be impressed by that spirit to say something every time she sees you. She doesn’t know it’s bothering you, but the birdie (devil) knows. And that birdie will fly as often as needed to wear you down and make you lose your tolerance and your Holy Ghost.

Every word we speak can be used by Satan and his demons against us to test our faith and spiritual walk. Let’s be mindful to guard our mouths and be careful what slips out into the air. Plead a covering over your prayer time with the Lord; that no winged-creature carries your words outside your closet. Jesus, help us to speak positive words: the Word, our testimony, and uplifting prayers. Let these words be what finds flight into the air by that little birdie—and let him help us take the whole gospel to the whole world.

The Lame Lion Excuse

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

Recently at the home of my sister and brother-in-law, I observed an interesting exchange. While in mid-conversation, one of the children bounded through the room. My sister—with the greatest peripheral vision of mankind—stopped momentarily to give direction to her offspring. My nephew gave an invalid (albeit humorous) excuse as to why he couldn’t complete such a request. (I think it had something to do with an unconstitutional detour of his remote-control car.)

My nephew’s excuse had absolutely no bearing whatsoever as to why he couldn’t complete the request, but in his childlike mindset, his excuse was 100% valid. He understood the request, evaluated his agenda, and provided rationale as to why it wasn’t feasible to comply. While it made perfect sense to him, the adult population equated his logic as A + caterpillar = mc².

At the apex of the conversation, the reason my nephew didn’t want to obey his mother boiled down to one very simple fact—sheer laziness.

I initially chuckled at his lazy attitude and remembered how I’d been the same as a child. Even more so, I’d come up with some of my own brilliant excuses. Thinking back, I realized they were all self-centered and perpetuated by a lazy mentality. How fortunate was I to have grown up and surpassed this state of mind and being! Or, so I thought…

The lazy person [who is self-indulgent and relies on lame excuses] says, “There is a lion in the road! A lion is in the open square [and if I go outside to work I will be killed]!” (Proverbs 26:13, AMP).

Truthfully, no matter how old we get, we can’t escape a lazy mentality. We just don’t grow out of it. We were all born into sin and the lazy gene is a part of our DNA—lock, stock, and barrel. Our ability to fabricate some humdinger lazy excuse doesn’t end with childhood; it continues into our adulthood. And amazingly enough, we’re just as oblivious to the infallibility of our logic as adults as we were as children.

Like our parents, God asks us to do things all the time. When it disrupts our current plans, requires work, or doesn’t fit into our timeframe, we come up with lame excuses. Why? Because we’re LAZY!

Our logic is similar to what’s presented in the Scripture above. It doesn’t make sense! The person giving this excuse pretty much was saying 1) there are lions in the world, 2) they live outside, 3) we must go outside in transit to work, 4) because we’re in the same out-of-doors location, we’re going to encounter a lion, 5) we’ll most definitely be killed by one; therefore, 6) we can’t work. That’s what I call a lame lion excuse. It’s outright laziness!

I think we can agree this sounds idiotic coming from someone else. But, this is what every response (due to our lazy flesh) sounds like to God. It makes sense in our minds, but in God’s ears, it’s a lame lion excuse. Each time, we’re pretty much saying we can’t do it because we might be eaten by a lion.

If we keep a consistent prayer life and stay in the Word, the perpetual influence of God’s Spirit in our lives will help us curb our lazy attitudes and lame lion excuses. He’ll help us immediately see our nonsensical excuses. He’ll help reveal our lazy spirit. And He’ll and urge us to surrender to the call of action in His Kingdom. Let’s all commit to shape up, get to work, and get outside. I promise you won’t have to fear a lion coming to get you any time soon.

The Badge

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

I’m brushing up on my foreign language skills and have been completing daily language lessons for about a year. I’m driven to complete daily lessons because I’m pretty determined to sharpen my language skills. I believe God’s going to incorporate them into a future ministry, so I’m preparing now for when I’ll need them later. But, I must confess, I’m also compelled to study by another albeit more embarrassing reason: in-app awards and badges.

At work, I’ve been researching user adoption trends for a while and seeing the buzzword “gamification” pop-up across more articles than I can count. I initially scoffed at the idea of adoption increase of using a product, methodology, etc. just by offering a virtual award that can’t be exchanged for anything tangible. And then I realized my little badges, tracking advancement through my language learning, was the same exact thing.

The more language lessons I complete, the more badges I earn in my app. It’s equivalent to a gold star in preschool, a unit badge in Girl Scouts, or a verbal, “good job” in the workplace. It’s based on my accomplishments, my work, and my effort. That’s a lot of “mys,” right?

If I’m not careful, I’ll catch myself doing this in another area of my life. It’s easy to get caught up doing a work for God and pushing myself to do more for an imaginary badge. We can almost feel justified in our badge-earning when we read the following Scripture:

Also unto You, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work (Psalms 62:12, KJV).

If this doesn’t encourage you to complete more and better works for God’s Kingdom, I don’t know what will. There’s nothing wrong with getting motivated to do a work for God, but we can’t look at it from a badge or gamification perspective.

When I read this verse the other day, I retracted my toes quickly because God’s Word had just stomped all over them. Yes, God will reward us for the work we do on earth for His Kingdom. He’ll look at our obedience and work quality, not the quantity. But, that’s not what the focus of this Scripture is about. Notice how it says, mercy belongs to the Lord? You can pretty much remove mercy and enter in every other word you can think of. Everything belongs to God—all glory, all honor, all praise, all works, all accomplishments, and yes, all imaginary badges.

The truth is, we receive God’s mercy due to our works only because we can’t claim to deserve any award. It’s only by the mercy of God we’re able to do anything for His Kingdom. His grace, strength, and knowledge provides us with the know-how and physical ability. We can’t do anything on our own, and yet He awards us for what we do. How amazing is that?

The word render in Hebrew means amend or complete. Basically, God will amend or complete the work we do, call it done, and then reward us for it. Ouch—that badge we have looks different now, doesn’t it? My language badge isn’t from my doing, it’s God’s. His work to fill in the gaps make it all possible.

It’s very important to think about what’s driving us today; what’s giving us every ability. We must consider if what we’re doing is for the right motives. If we feel what we’ve marked off our list at the end of the day is “earned,” we’re wrong. Our ultimate badge—our crown of glory—is one I pray to lay down at the feet of the rightful owner someday. What about you? Are you ready to play and give every badge away?