Teachers of the Word of God must be extremely careful about what they teach because God will hold them accountable to a greater standard than others (James 3:1). The greater your influence and the larger your audience, the more careful you must be.
Your ability to rightly divide the Word of Truth is not based on how long you've been in the ministry. It's based primarily on the state of your spirituality. If you are not right spiritually, you need to sit down until you get right because you will not have the discernment you need.
Even if something works for you, if it is not specifically written in the Word of God, leave it alone for you own safety. You can bring judgment on yourself by adding to the Word of God. Let me give an example.
When Jesus talks about the hundredfold return in Mark 10, it is often taught that this is a blanket promise to anyone who gives, especially money. That is a wrong interpretation of what Jesus said. He was talking about the person who gives up something for his sake and the sake of the gospel. This is the one who will receive a hundredfold return.
Many fail to realize the caveat in that promise is not about what you give, it's about why you give. Many people give money for various reasons. Some want to be well thought of in church. Others want to stand at the front of the church so everyone can see they were able to give ex amount of dollars. Even if you give just because you can, that does not qualify you for the hundredfold return. Jesus is specifically talking about the believer who has to make a hard choice and gives up something rather than compromise. To use Scripture otherwise is a gross misstatement.
You do not want to put God in a position of having to make you sit down. Judge yourself and you will not have to be judged.
I am DianaForHim
There is a difference between building a ministry and ministering. It seems to me that much of the focus on believers in the Church over the past couple of decades has been on building itself up and not a lot on ministering to the unsaved.
It isn't really a lot of fun being around or hanging out with unsaved people. They don't talk the way church people talk. Many drink and some smoke, as some of us did back in the day, so we don't really feel a part of the crowd; and we're not. But I wonder if our discomfort has caused us to move away from the very things we are supposed to be focused on doing, i.e., being a light in the darkness.
I worked full-time up until 2006, and when I think back, my greatest contributions to the Kingdom and influence among the unsaved occurred when I was working on jobs. It was on the job that I had to walk the talk, and many unsaved people noticed and I had quite a few opportunities over the years to lead many to Christ. Primarily it was because of where I was stationed -- on the job.
Anytime we withdraw from a place in society, it leaves a vacuum, and that vacuum will be filled by somebody. What we are experiencing right now in our American society at large, is a vacuum that has been filled by secularists and unbelievers. In other words, they hold many of the key positions in education, health care, technology, entertainment, politics, and the media.
While we were building our big churches, they were building their careers and securing positions of influence and power. They took dominion, and we didn't.
I am DianaForHim
The Battle Between The Flesh and the Spirit
As members of the Body of Christ, we cannot be under the law and under grace at the same time. They are in total conflict and opposition to one another. You will find yourself under one or the other, not both.
This is a major problem in the Body of Christ because of the distortion about the law of sowing and reaping, which has been made to seemingly be primarily about money, when the New Testament Biblical application is really about living according to the desires of your flesh (the law), or living according to the desires of the Holy Spirit, grace.
In Galatians, the Apostle Paul uses the law of circumcision to explain this. Circumcision brought the Jews under the law, only it did not work. They could not obey God’s laws by being circumcised. They still repeatedly fell into idolatry and other sins, as do we when we are living under the law.
When someone teaches or advocates the law as opposed to grace, they are placing themselves under the law. When you are under the law, you are under a curse because the law requires perfection, which none of us can do (Galatians 3:10).
How do you know when you are living under the law? You will do the deeds of the flesh which is in opposition to the deeds of the Spirit.
When you are living under the curse of the law, you will not have the freedom to live under the grace of the Cross because you will be ruled by your fleshly desires, which will not allow you to inherit the kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul tells us which are the desires are of the flesh: idolatry, meaning you will have ungodly desires, such as an excessive desires for worldly things like money and success; adultery, meaning you will not have control over how you look at your neighbor’s spouse (Galatians 5:19-20.
Living by the flesh will not allow you to love your neighbor as yourself, which is the real law.
How do you get out from under the curse of the law? You repent and cease from wrong teaching and believing.
I am DianaForHim
Prayer is communicating with our heavenly Father, The focus of this short article, however, is not about who we pray to, or even in whose name we pray; but how we pray.
The point being, we can pray wrong. This is exactly what our Lord Jesus said.
He said we should pray with the right motive, and not just pray to be seen or heard. like the hypocritical pharisees.
He also said we should not pray vain repetitions. Think about what he is saying. Here, Jesus is talking about the content of our prayer.
Remember, prayer is communication, and communication should be effective. Every communication should have a purpose. That purpose could be to simply bless the Lord or to praise him – which is wonderful! But when you have a problem, don’t just praise the Lord in prayer and never address your problem with him.
The Apostle James said that we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). In other words, not only can we pray with the wrong motive, but we can also pray in an ineffective way. If we fail to ask, don’t expect God to answer a request that has not been made.
When Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray, he said something interesting. He said, the Father already knows what you need before you ask. He didn’t say don’t ask. He said the Father already knows.
Imagine this. You have a problem and you go to your earthly father. You tell him how much you love him and trust him, but you go away without sharing the real reason for going to him in the first place. That is disingenuous in that it shows a lack of confidence or a lack of trust in your Father. It could even be a matter of pride. You may be too proud to humble yourself and admit your own inability.
Here is the real crux of this message. Jesus said this next, and we pray it all the time: “Thy kingdom come. They will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
God is building his kingdom right here on earth, and he builds through believers. As believers do his will in our situations and every-day lives, as we apply his solutions to our problems, we are doing his will the same way his will is being done in heaven, where his kingdom rules. Do you see it? It is as we do his will, we do our part in establishing his kingdom here on earth.
Now here is the important part that I’ve been getting to. In many cases, we only know his will in our situations when we ask for it. Father, I desire to know your will in this situation. When we approach the Father in prayer like that, he is more than happy to share his will with us.
But don’t stop there. It is even more important that we do his will, and not just ask for it. That is effective prayer and kingdom building.
I am DianaForHim
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What would you like to do today, is the question I would ask the Holy Spirit as a young Christian working in downtown Chicago (also called 'the Loop), I developed the habit of asking the Holy Spirit who He wanted to bless today. It was exciting and so much fun to participate in his adventures as He brought people my way.
I'll never forget this one day when I was sitting in an Amtrak train station waiting for my train, and He brought an older woman who sat her down beside me. Of course, we began to talk. As I shared my faith with her, before she left to catch her train, she asked me if I would call her brother who was in a hospital, and share the gospel with him. He was not doing well, and she was concerned about his salvation; as was I now.
I immediately told her, of course! I would call him that night once I got home. She gave me his information, left to get on her train, and I never saw the lady again.
When I got home, I thought to myself, wait a minute, Diana. Are you really going to call a total stranger on the phone. Isn't it funny how quickly our courage can melt into doubt? I mean, what would I say to this total stranger? But, since I had committed to the lady, and more importantly to the Holy Spirit, I would call and I did.
Yes, it was a strange feeling, but I called. He answered, and I explained to him that I had met his sister in a train station, and she had asked me to call. I was surprised at how willing he was to talk and listen, and thrilled as the opportunity opened for me to lead him to Christ. It was amazing! And all because I chose to step out in faith.
I never met or talked to the man again, nor did I ever see his sister again. But I have often reflected on the adventures of being used by God when we make ourselves available to him.
I am DianaForHim
We're living in some unusual times. They're complex, and a bit alarming. But, we knew these days would come; right?
Just as our Lord Jesus prepared his disciples for what was coming then (his betrayal and crucifixion), he has prepared us for these days.
Don't be paralyzed by the events happening around you. Don't allow the times to stop you from enjoying life and doing the greater works you were created to do.
Find something you enjoy, and do it. It can be something as simple as reading a good book to increase your knowledge, or as complex as getting involved in some type of volunteer work that feeds your passion.
When we do things we enjoy and love, it fulfills us by meeting an internal need we have to be useful.
So do not allow your heart to be overly troubled or afraid. You and I have a great eternal future, and the help we need in the Holy Spirit who is walking right alongside us (John 14).
Quite a few years back, I had a rather unique experience to witness first-hand how our perception flavors what we see.
I was at a church meeting that ended by breaking people up into 5-member prayer groups. Each group was given one specific subject to pray about, and each of the five members was to pray.
At the time, I was involved in a deep study of five-fold ministry gifts, and it just so happened that group contained people who confessed to each of the five-fold ministry gifts. I know this because they each had a name tag with their spiritual calling, as they believed it to be.
In this particular group, one person identified as an evangelist, one a pastor, one a prophet, another a teacher, and the last an apostle.
What I witnessed was quite amazing!
As I listened to each person in the group pray, each one prayed about the same subject but from a different perspective. Here is how it went.
- The teacher prayed that people would learn and be enlightened about the situation.
- The prophet prayed that people would be warned about the situation and rectify it.
- The evangelist prayed that the situation would yield a harvest of souls.
- The pastor prayed compassionately for the protection of the people; and
- The apostle took a warfare stand against the situation.
The dominant gift in each person flavored the perspective from which they approached the subject matter. Even more interesting was the fact that each perspective was necessary.
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I was reading the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3, as he described the nature and attitudes of people in the last days. Here is how he described them.
He said they would be totally self-centered. These are people who genuinely do not care about others. They are overly concerned with getting things and as much money as they can get, and they do not care how they get it. They will break a window and take what they want.
They are full of contempt and hatred for others, such that they will not even listen to reason. You can't talk to them because they are not interested in reason or hearing what anyone has to say.
They lack human feelings for others because their hearts are hard having no knowledge of God, and this makes them fierce. Caring produces discipline, and they have none.
As bad as they are, they will get worse. So what do we do?
Paul told us three things to do:
- He said to maintain our faith in what we have learned;
- Continue to declare the truth and goodness of God; and
- Be prepared to suffer for righteousness.
“Can Two Walk Together, Except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3
Agreement is a powerful concept that says it is impossible for two people to genuinely unite unless they have agreed about some important beliefs.
What we often fail to understand about agreement, is that it works both ways; i.e., not only will you be unable to unite with those you do not agree with, but you will also be unable to break the bonds of those with whom you do agree.
Your agreement — right or wrong — binds you to those who share those beliefs.
If you discover at some point that you have been closely associated with wrong people, rest assure you have points of agreement with them.
To break those bonds, you will have to discover where those beliefs are that are keeping you connected to wrong people. You must then submit those wrong beliefs to the Holy Spirit, and allow him to correct you.
This is one of the primary reasons that prideful people cannot overcome; they refuse to admit they have wrong beliefs. Wrong beliefs, depending on what those beliefs are, can absolutely lead to a destructive life “Pride goeth before destruction,and an haughty spirit before a fall” Proverbs 16:18.
One last thing. If you are encircled by people who share those wrong beliefs, the binding power of those wrong beliefs will be stronger because a three-fold cord is not easily broken “…and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” Eccl. 4:12b).
The key is humility; being willing to be corrected.
I am DianaForHim