Detecting the Presence – (Part Two) of “Separating the Gold From the Junk” Series

In PART ONE, we looked at the apostle Paul’s admonition to the First Church of Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:1-16), regarding DISCERNMENT for ALL.  In PART TWO, we will be looking at the special GIFT of DISCERNING SPIRITS within the body of Christ, the church.

20090527_spiritual-gifts-discernment_poster_img

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 Amplified Bible:

[7] But to each one is given the manifestation of the [Holy] Spirit [the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit] for good and profit.  [8] To one is given in and through the [Holy] spirit  [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another  [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit;  [9] To another  [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit;  [10] To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight  (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between  [the utterances of true]  spirits  [and false ones] to another various kinds of [unknown]  tongues, to another the ability to interpret  [such] tongues.       [11] All these  [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit,  Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses. 

“Discerning of Spirits”  (verse 10):

Discerning of spirits is a vital gift to the body of Christ, the church.  The enemy has gotten away with a lot of junk of demonic manifestations in our church services because of the gift of discerning spirits… is not functioning in the leadership.

This particular GIFT reveals the “kind” of spirit behind a supernatural manifestation.  If somebody is crawling around on the floor during a church service, barking like a dog, the pastor better have the ability to DISCERN what spirit is operating in that individual.

THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:

The GIFTS of the Holy Spirit, are talked about in Christian circles with differing reactions.  I believe ALL the GIFTS are for the body of Christ today and are given by the Spirit for the common good of the church.  They didn’t pass away with the original apostles, and as God’s Word explains in verse 11,  “ALL these gifts…Who  (the Holy Spirit) apportions to [not “SOME”, but ] EACH PERSON individually as He chooses” (Mel’s paraphrase in brackets).

God is still moving, still healing, still performing miracles, and still bringing deliverance to 1000’s of people!  We can deny the facts or accept His gifts.  But our God is alive and well and He wants to use us in His kingdom.

Why are these GIFTS given to believers in JESUS?  

1 Corinthians 12:7 begins in telling us why.

“But to each one is given the manifestation of the [Holy] for good and profit”

GIFTS are not given to be personal blessing to us, to make us feel special or holier than the next guy.  They are given for the common good of the church.

In my Word investigations over the years, I believe we must accept His gifts—so the BODY can prosper and function according to His purpose and plan…not our purposes and plans. (By the way, there is more than one list.  *See 1 Cor. 12:28; Rom. 12:6-8; Eph. 4:11 for additional GIFTS.)

None of Us Have ALL the GIFTS:

JESUS is the only one who possessed every gift in its fullness.  The GIFT OF DISCERNING SPIRITS is a good example of this.  It may be pretty nifty to be able to see what is going on in the spirit realm, but what are you going to do with the information?

It may take someone with the GIFT OF WISDOM to know.  Or, someone with the GIFT OF PROPHECY to be able to speak about God’s plan or purpose in the situation presented.  Many gifts will blend together to bring God’s kingdom on the earth and to the body of Christ.

WHAT IS THE GIFT OF DISCERNING SPIRITS?

Discerning spirits is first…a God-given ability to detect the presence of–to see/perceive into the spirit realm; to know the roots of issues and true motives of people whether from good or an evil spirit.

To the person possessed of the gift, they have the ability to skip to the bottom line faster and not to be sidetracked by appearances.

[An Important Note]:

The discerning of spirits is NOT the “gift of discernment”.  Have you ever heard someone say, “I have the gift of discernment”?  Biblically, this person is incorrect, because the Word of God makes no mention of the gift of discernment; however, it does mention the GIFT of discerning spirits.

Ephesians 6:12
Ephesians 6:12

LOOKING INTO THE SPIRIT REALM:

“This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness” were two of the first Christian fiction novels that I read all the way through [In record time for me].  It was the battle between good and evil that has been raging for centuries.  Some of the characters in the books, obviously have the gift of discerning spirits.  Frank Peretti brings alive the events in a small college town in the Northwest, where nothing much ever seems to happen, until Scripture comes alive on the book’s pages.

“For we are not contending against 

flesh and blood, but against the

principalities, against the powers, 

against the world rulers of this present

darkness, against the spiritual hosts of

wickedness in the heavenly places.”

–Ephesians 6:12

ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE BIBLE:  Isaiah and John’s  Gifts–

“IN THE year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple”  (Isaiah 6:1 KJV).

How was Isaiah able to see the Lord?  He saw by the gift of discerning spirits; the ability to see into the spirit realm.  And the apostle John…on the Isle of Patmos, he saw the Holy spirit as seven spirits before the heavenly throne.

“Yeah, but those examples were thousands of years ago, not for todays’ church!”

A Personal Story and Testimony–

My son and daughter-in-law had asked me to attend a two-day conference being held at their church.  Although I wasn’t really excited about two days of guest speakers; inside of a poorly vented building,  but said I would attend:

The first day was informative and with worship and praise accompanying the speakers, I was having a Holy Spirit good time.  And then on the second morning, as I sat with head bowed and eyes closed in prayer of the last day, it happened.  I began to see an army of mighty angels descending on the roof of the church.  With no clue to what was happening or why, I looked straight up at the inside ceiling and could see cracks forming and expanding like spider webs.  And while all of this was going on, hoping the evidence of chaos happening on  the roof would become clear to my spirit.  Why was this happening here and now?  Was I dreaming…with my eyes open?  And why me, was anyone else in the church building having the same experience?

And then as suddenly as it had appeared, it all stopped.  Deadening silence until…I was given a clear understanding; a discernment, an understanding of what I had seen in the spirit realm.

Holy Spirit explained, “God was being manifested on the inside of the church from those in attendance of our ‘prayer and praise.’  Already, Satan’s demons had been sent to create chaos during the FAITH conference.  And since our prayers had released God’s messengers, they in turn cleared the roof from any other hindrances–‘spiritual hosts of wickedness’.”  

There had been a battle going on top of the roof, so much so, the cracks in the ceiling became visible to my spiritual eyes.  Although the entire vision was over in minutes, which at the time seemed much longer, I immediately tapped my son on his shoulder and told him the course of events and what I had seen.  And his quiet response in my ear was: “Dad, you just had your first experience into the spirit realm– of ‘discerning spirits’.”  After the conference had ended, my son asked if I would relay the gift of discerning spirits to his pastor.

I have had other experiences in this gifting since then, but none as visual and dramatic as the one I just shared with you all.

What is a “spirit”?

A spirit is a living personality, whether it is the Spirit of God, the human spirit (which is the spirit of man), or an evil spirit.  There are many voices speaking today and we must allow the gifts of His Holy Spirit to operate and function in us.

Being Careful At the Same Time–

We are not to confuse suspicion with perception and discernment.

Suspicion is from the mind, not from the Spirit of God.  We cannot be led by our “suspicions” but led by the power of the Holy spirit.

SHOULD WE DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS?

King Solomon, David’s son is praying and asking God for direction:  “I know not how to go out (begin) or come in (finish)”  (1 Kings 3:7).  He continues in his prayer saying, “Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen…”  (verse 8).  And now the petition, Solomons desire in his prayer:

“So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart

to judge Your people, that I may DISCERN between

GOOD and BAD…”

~1 Kings 3:9~

To answer the question “should we desire spiritual gifts”, we must look at the reasons they are given in the first place; TO PROMOTE THE COMMON GOOD OF THE ENTIRE BODY OF CHRIST!  If we can think of it this way, it should deter us from corrosive pride, as each gift has a specific use and one gift is not any better or inferior to any other.

Dr. Basil Frasure, a counselor and minister with the Fellowship Church in Angelo, Texas has written a fascinating article, “Discerning of Spirits”.  Dr. Frasure writes,

“One of the best ways to discern the nature of a spirit is to check the Word of God (your Bible).  Does what the spirit says match up with the Word of God?”

In the Genesis Story, Eve certainly didn’t have this gift of discernment.  God had told Adam and Eve one thing by His Word, and the serpent, Satan, a ‘spirit’ had told them something else.  REMEMBER, the main principle of interpreting Scripture is that the Bible, God’s Word interprets itself.  Only by repeatedly cycling through God’s Word in the manner of the Bereans (Acts 17:11)-“Separating the Gold From the Junk”, can we properly exercise the gift of discerning of spirits.

Separating the Gold From the Junk – (Part One)

A TREATISE ON SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT:

With the my conversations this past week [Adult Sunday School time;  plus trying to define the word “DISCERNMENT” and its meaning with my wife],  the Spirit directed me towards obtaining a clearer understanding.  I hope, as you follow along, you too will have a deeper understanding of discerning.

In its simplest definition, DISCERNMENT is nothing more than the ability to decide between TRUTH AND ERROR, RIGHT AND WRONG!  It is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth.  In other words, the ABILITY to think with DISCERNMENT is synonymous with an ability to think biblically [I will discuss the “GIFT OF DISCERNING SPIRITS” and the differences in Part Two].

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches us that it’s the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning–

21  “Test ALL things; hold fast to what is good. 22  Abstain from every form of evil”  (NKJV).

Paul’s Admonition in a Letter:

Now my pastor used several bible verses relating to the topic of DISCERNMENT, but in particular, my focus in PART ONE will be directed to…

1 Corinthians 2:1-2:16– [The New King James Version].

Christ Crucified–

2  And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  [2] For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  [3] I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  [4] And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  [5] that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Spiritual Wisdom

[6]  However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  [7] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery [“secret”] of the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,  [8] which none of the rulers of this age know; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

[9] But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

[10] But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God.  [11] For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man who is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the word but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

[13] These things we also speak not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  [14] But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.  [15] But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  [16] For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”  But we have the mind of Christ.

8413196065_fb484f0a2f  The Truths Are Deep, and Yet Simple–

There are no commands in this chapter of I Corinthians 2.  No rebukes given to the First Church of Corinth.  Instead, Paul is calling us all to appreciate and puzzle over what God has given in Christ by the Spirit.  While the truths are deep, at heart, they are very simple.

Paul is arguing against the Corinthians for trying to find some deeper, profound, scholarly wisdom.  When all the depth they ever need is found in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, DISCERNMENT is an area where most Christians stumble.  They exhibit little ability to measure the things they are taught against the infallible standard of God’s Word.

“SPIRITUAL WISDOM IN A FOOLISH WORLD”

Waylon Jennings lyrics in the classic Country Tune, Lookin’ For Love, started out with the conundrum this way:

“I was looking for love in all the wrong places

Looking for love in too many faces…”

Paul’s Letter to the Corinth Church–

A Church in Greece
A Church in Greece

The church members in a large Greek city also were in a “conundrum”; they were searching for spiritual wisdom in “all the wrong places”.  They had formed elitist groups based on certain teachings and opinions.

We do the same today in our towns and cities.  Church people form groups based on some new spiritual guru, the latest best seller and seminar, seeking with levels of advancement in “spirituality”.  It can get really silly!

In Corinth, what the church thought was WISE…

What was WISE ends up being foolish sometimes and in modern Christian circles, some groups use “buzzwords” to express our take on what it means to be “spiritually mature.”

Ever have someone ask you if you were “full of the Spirit”?  Have you got the “second blessing”?  Does your church believe in the “full gospel”?  I’ve certainly asked the same questions.

Corinthian “Catchwords”–

The apostle Paul uses their buzzwords to reclaim them; re-defining them in the light of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

 In using their language but filling it with his own content, Paul rejects them.  He uses terms that the Corinthians had adopted to justify their spiritual elitism (“wisdom,” “mature,” “secret,” “spiritual”); showing that when these terms are properly understood, they include that which is available to ALL believers, not just the super-spiritual.

The Problem in Corinth–

The problem was not that some Christians didn’t have the Holy Spirit, for all the Christians in Corinth had the Spirit.  The problem was they were not living as spiritual persons ought to live!

Our problem today isn’t that we don’t have what we need to live Christ-like lives, but that we are not embracing what has already been given to us.  We are instead,  “Misfocused In Unfruitful Directions”.

WE’VE BEEN BOMBARDED WITH CLAIMS. 

Claims like: THE KEYS to a happy and healthy Christian Life is to be found in some new technique [Prayer, self-help therapy, a Christian book, spiritual warfare, certain style of worship, personal revelation, a prayer tongue], and on and on.  When these so-called “KEYS”, move away from the humbling, central focus of the Cross of Jesus, we risk becoming elitists, potentially divisive, and if not rejected…can cause a ‘church split.’

Ironically, many deeper life Christian movements have evidently appealed to the church in 1 Corinthians 2; to justify their approach, which is the opposite of Paul’s intent.

Paul’s Intent–

The Apostle’s intent is that we should embrace “spiritual discernment” in God’s wisdom in Christ and by the Spirit.  When we shift our focus off Jesus, to some other secondary teaching or emphasis, we have lost our way.  When we seek and pursue some “deeper” meaning or “better way” that only we and our group have seen, we’ve missed the opportunity of reaching SPIRITUAL MATURITY available to ALL… through Christ and by the Holy Spirit.

Now the Corinthian church members thought they were mature and spiritual in their pursuit of wisdom, but in fact, they were but spiritual infants, missing the TRUE WISDOM of God through His Son.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE “KEY” IN DISCERNMENT:

(Verses 10-12):  “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God.  [11] For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

The Spirit of God knows ALL the things of God, including the DEPTH of who God is, and His thoughts.  So the Spirit can and does enable us to know what God has already given us!

What is amazing to me is what the Holy Spirit does for us; providing for us to know the things God has graciously given to those who believe.

What are the “THINGS” He has provided?

The NIV bible translates “freely given” from the Greek word Charisthenta, from the word GRACE, charis.  So Paul is talking about Christ and everything we have available through JESUS through His cross and we are to grab hold of the WISDOM that is present in Christ Crucified!  This is TRUE WISDOM, which the Spirit makes possible for us to know–to “discern”.

So what do we do with this knowledge?

“…which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words”  (verse 13, NASB bible).

We are to DISCERN SPIRITUALLY, then we are to explain spiritual truth to others around us, all by the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

Then Paul continues the thought in verse 14, sharing that the person without the Spirit doesn’t accept “the things” or “the depth” or understand because…only discerning is through the Spirit.

The ‘natural’, ‘nonspiritual man’ doesn’t accept the truth.  They appear foolish, not understood.  The Greek phrase here doesn’t describe a ‘weak Christian’, but rather a person who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, so they’re NOT a Christian.

This is a person who lives on a purely human plane, so following Christ crucified doesn’t make sense to them.  It’s like a deaf person trying to listen to music; or like trying to get email on a phone that’s not smart.

THE AMAZING TRUTH REVEALED: 

Separating the Gold from the Junk
Separating the Gold from the Junk

The last two verses in our text brings us to the Amazing Truth:  The ‘Spiritual’ person discerns [or “judges”, “separates”] ALL things–what is wise and foolish, by sifting out the gold from the junk.

[15]  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  [16] For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”  But we have the mind of Christ. 

The Holy Spirit of God enables us to DISCERN WISDOM as we evaluate ALL LIFE with the mind of Christ.

Paul Verifies His Final Point:

Paul’s reference to a Scripture quotation in the Old Testament from Isaiah 40:13, asking rhetorically: ‘for Scripture says who can know God’s mind?  Who can instruct God?’

Of course the answer is that no one can; no one knows the mind of the Lord, which makes the final phrase seem so outrageous.  He says…we can know God’s mind.  He says…but we have the mind of Christ.

By the Spirit we have the mind of JESUS which is to have the mind of God.

If you want to continue looking at the word DISCERNING, you might look up and read some other *Bible verses in reference to this study in 1 Corinthians 2:1 – 2:16.

 In Part Two, we will again look at DISCERNMENT, but as a spiritual gift of discerning “spirits” and the understanding within the context of the verses found in 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 2..

*Bible References for DISCERNMENT:  [1 John 4:1; Hebrews 4:12; Philippians 1:9-10; Hebrews 5:14; Proverbs 3:1-12; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 Kings 3:9; Proverbs 18:15]. 

“UNCHECKMATED”

A Famous Chess Game
A Famous Chess Game

 A Defeat in Progress–

The Fausts’  famous painting hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.  Faust is seated at a table engaged in a competitive game of chess.  And at first glance, looks like Faust is losing.

His opponent in the chess game is Satan.  The devil sits there grinning smugly, thinking the VICTORY is in hand.  He is pointing at the chessboard with an evil, gloating look on his face.

As you look at the painting, you can almost hear the devil shouting:

“Checkmate!  Games over!  I win!”

An international famous chess player was admiring the painting when all of a sudden, he lunged forward exclaiming:

“Wait a minute!  Look! Faust has another move and that move will give him VICTORY.”

THE TEXT from Acts 26:16-18: “Another Move!”

[16]  But arise and stand upon your feet: for I have appeared to you for this purpose, that I might appoint you to serve as [My] minister and to bear witness both to what you have seen of Me and to that in which I will appear to you.  [17] Choosing you out [selecting you for Myself] and delivering you from among this [Jewish] people and the Gentiles to whom I am sending you–  [18] To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me.  (Amplified Bible)

JESUS HAS GIVEN US PURPOSE:

I remember years ago, when I was asked to give an account of how and when I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior before a small group.  How inadequate I first felt.  It wasn’t that I feared standing in front of people to speak, but I thought my story wasn’t….exciting enough.  I hadn’t been driving down a road, when a lightning bolt struck the pavement in front of the car; pulling to the shoulder; hearing the audible voice of God saying,  “Mel, I have a specific purpose and objectives in mind for you.”

But in saying that, when we accept JESUS out of obedience…for He chose you, you didn’t choose Him; you accepted the calling… out of obedience.  The obedience doesn’t stop there at conversion.  It’s ongoing!

The Apostle Paul’s Testimony in Acts 26–

We find Paul stating his God-given purpose through his testimony to the whole Jewish Legal council.  Also, to three of the highest political officials in Palestine:  FELIX, FESTUS, and AGRIPPA.  All three hear the GOSPEL MESSAGE because Paul was arrested and imprisoned on false charges.

PAUL’S TESTIMONY:

He was blinded by an arrogant sense of his own importance.

Thought he was on a mission for God.

Though he was defending God…he had gone on the offensive; to wipe out as many Christians as possible.

He was chasing them down everywhere, arresting them, sentencing them to prison, even torturing them if needed.

If they (the Christians) refused to renounce their faith, like Stephen, Paul saw to it that they died as a heretic.  Saul, as he was known to the world, quickly became infamous among the Way (what believers were known as before the term “Christians” was applied).  Would Paul’s INFAMY put him in CHECKMATE after his obedience to God’s calling?

BUT SOMEONE SAW PAUL’S POTENTIAL–  JESUS!

Paul’s testimony– that JESUS turned on the lights for him–blinding him on the Road to Damascus.  Now, his eyesight was “20/20” regarding spiritual matters.

3 OBJECTIVES TO CONSIDER:

THE FIRST OBJECTIVE we are to meet is to accomplish the purpose; to move out of a “checkmated” position. 

JESUS has given each one of us in the church assembly, the BODY OF CHRIST this command:  GO AND TELL!  (verse 17)–

“I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles”

“I AM SENDING YOU”:

God has placed you and I to penetrate our community with the good news.

We are a sent people–

In fact, the smaller number in attendance at the church I attend, with various age differences, different occupations–we are all given the same responsibility; penetrate the world, our community, with the Gospel.

None of us live at the church, though you may complain you feel like at times.  Most of us don’t work at the church; we live and work among the people outside the church walls.  That’s just where God wants us to be.  He wants us living out there, moving about, meeting people, being involved in their lives and shining God’s Light around our own lives.  Does that sound just to “poetic” for you to grasp and understand?

THE “CHURCH” IS MORE THAN A LIGHTHOUSE:

As some of you know, I sang in a men’s Gospel trio in Southern California in the late 70’s.  One of my favorite Gospel Hymns to sing out in the community was, The Lighthouse.  The lyrics refer to Jesus as the Lighthouse, and that is certainly true.  But since we are Christ’s Ambassadors, we are to represent the “Lighthouse.”  The last verse of the song contains a powerful thought:

THE LIGHTHOUSE

Everybody that lives about us

Says tear that Lighthouse down.

The big ships don’t sail  this way anymore

There’s no use of it standing round

Then my mind goes back to that stormy night

When just in time I saw  the light

Yes, the light from that old Lighthouse

That stands up there on the hill.

Please understand, this idea is often a mistake in the body of Christ–the Christian Assembly.  We sometimes believe that the CHURCH BUILDING is our Lighthouse and not the Light living inside of us.

It is time for the church to start  “wiggling”–MOVING OUT!

I came across a story this past week, of an E.M.T. (emergency medical technician):

Bill Stelianessis was called to a nursing home for a routine transport.  While there, he encountered four residents enjoying the warm day, relaxing in lounge chairs, all staring up at the sky.  When he looked up to see what they were looking at, he saw a flock of large birds flying by.  Then one resident spoke up:  “Margaret,” she teased, “for goodness sake, wiggle or something.  Those buzzards are getting closer!”

We are going to have to move folks.  We are supposed to be “living lighthouses”–guiding, directing, and warning others.  We do not ask people to come here to the “building”, for most won’t come.  We are to go where they are, and show them the LIGHT.

Moving Lighthouses
Moving Lighthouses

A SECOND OBJECTIVE–ANOTHER MOVE we are to meet, to accomplish the purpose of Jesus has given us– “…to open eyes…” (verse 18).

God wants spiritually blinded eyes to be opened:  “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said,  ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’  made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”  (2 Corinthians 4:4-6 NIV).

It is God who created LIGHT in the beginning.  HE SPOKE.  IT HAPPENED!

He has a method in mind.  It’s you and me.  We are PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT in communicating the TRUTH–God’s Word.

Our Responsibility–

To LIVE and SPEAK words of truth, so that when people’s eyes are opened, there is something to believe.

Holy spirit never opens the eyes of the heart until there is GOSPEL TRUTH in the mind to believe.  We do not SAVE people, and I think most of us already know that.  But on the other hand, Scripture indicates His only plan includes our communication–God doesn’t do it without us.

3042052_b6efc7004cTHE THIRD OBJECTIVE TO CONSIDER IS “TURN THEM” INTO VICTORY (Verse 19):

“To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness…

I remember when I was living in darkness…the “darkness of sin.”   Before being saved, I use to think life couldn’t be any better.  And those who did…I thought they were more than a bit “nutty.”  I thought that DARKNESS was light and LIGHT was darkness.

Are We Hiding the Light in a Paper Sack?

TWO CLASSMATES from Washington State University were discussing their frustrations of dorm life.  High up on their list was the difficulty of keeping others from eating ice cream stored in the dorm’s refrigerator.

“I’ve solved that one,” one of them said.  “I just wrap my ice cream in a brown paper bag and label it ‘TOFU’.”

It’s possible that the devil has done the same thing.  Wrapped up the light (THE TRUTH) in a brown paper bag and called it “TOFU”–as a result, no one is going near it!

SATAN’S POWER OVER PEOPLE:

His power is simply based on DECEPTION.  He does so by working hard to keep people away from the TRUTH.  So he bends and twists the TRUTH (God’s Word), keeping people at bay and off-balanced.  He did that with us…unsuccessfully.

I certainly remember why and how he FAILED.  It was because of one small, unattractive looking pastor, living out the truth every time he came to the place where I was employed.  Because eventually, after his repeated visits, the opportunity arose… to SHARE the Gospel TRUTH with my wife and I in the living room of our home.

Paul’s Example to Us All.

Paul wasn’t concerned about his own condition, as much as he was about the condition of those who stood before him.  While he was standing in chains, he was more concerned about the spiritual chains around the necks of Festus and Agrippa.

WE ARE CHOSEN AND ENTRUSTED WITH A MISSION:

Encouragement Presented.  BE A MOVING LIGHTHOUSE!

Those of us who were called–called out of the tunnel of darkness, into His marvelous Light are entrusted with a MISSION:

To remove whatever obstacles that prevent others from rejoicing in the brilliance of God’s unconditional acceptance.  We are to GUIDE, DIRECT, SHOW THE LIGHT.

Are the people living in the DARKNESS simply because you are not sharing your light?  Have we become CHECKMATED?

WE STILL HAVE A MOVE ON THE “CHESSBOARD”:

Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and]  do superabundantly far over and above all that we [dare] to ask or think  [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]–  To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever, Amen (so be it) – (Ephesians 3:20-21 AMP).

I see VICTORY in these two verses and the victory is in bringing others to Christ Jesus–letting the Holy Spirit do the convincing while we verbalize the “good news”!.

The God Who Made the World Wants to be Known

THE TEXT:  Acts 17:24-31 (NIV). [24] “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  [25] And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  [26] From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  [27] God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.  [28] For in Him we live and move and have our being.  As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’  [29] Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design or skill.  [30] In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.  [31] For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed.  He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.” How Can GOD Become Known? 4183279204_f5cd4d9110His creation is but one way.  The starry universe, planet Earth, plant and animal life, birds and bees, the human body, the birth of a baby:  ALL OF THESE AND MORE…speak loudly and clearly that GOD exist and is the Great Creator! If it takes someone to build a simple dog house [The “Big Bang Theory” didn’t build it], then to look around you–to see the starry, starry nights, it couldn’t have just happened… not without a Creator GOD! But there are other ways GOD reveals Himself to mankind.  Someone said:  “It is illegal to read the Bible in the public schools of Illinois, but a law that requires the state to provide a Bible for every convict!” So don’t worry, kids, if you can’t read the Bible in school, you’ll be able to when you get to prison! We Believe in the Book! The Book I’m referring to is the BIBLE–the Word of God. GOD’s Word not only reveals who GOD is, but also motivates us to live for Him!  My studying, my detective work in Scripture daily, is what makes my day!  His Word, by the Holy Spirit, inspires me to write this blog: The WORD Detective.  It brings joy to my heart which in turn makes me want to SERVE the Lord.  I WONDER WHY? GOD is constantly revealing Himself through His creation, through His Word, and in all kinds of ways:  music, giving, kindness, all through people!  And He does this for one main purpose:  HE WANTS ALL PEOPLE TO BE SAVED IN JESUS! THE GOD WHO MADE THE WORLD NO LONGER OVERLOOKS IGNORANCE: “Such [former] ages of ignorance God, it is true, ignored and allowed to pass unnoticed; but now He charges all people everywhere to repent (to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence to their past sins).    Because He has fixed a day when He will judge the world righteously (justly) by a Man Whom He has destined and appointed for that task, and He has made this credible and given conviction and assurance and evidence to everyone by raising Him from the dead”  (Acts 17:30, 31 AMP). WOW!  Pick out some specific words in the verses as I did: “but now…all people everywhere”; “repent”; a “fixed day” ahead; Jesus will “judge righteously”; God has given and made plain for all to see, “credible evidence” and “conviction,” “assurance” because of the risen Savior.  See if you can see some words that might influence others. “We’re Not Stupid, you know”– My wife and I were visiting my mom in a rest home in Georgetown, Texas five years ago.  Mom had Alzheimer’s disease, and dad couldn’t take care of her the way he wanted.  We were waiting in the lobby for dad, to take him out for dinner, when my wife noticed there was a group of people playing Bingo in the dining hall.  She took a stance behind an elderly lady seated at a small table, when a number was called out:  “N-3, N-3”.  Dianne leaned over the lady’s shoulder and said softly,  “I believe you have that number on your card,”  pointing to the place on the Bingo Card.  The lady looked my wife right in the eye, and at that point, instead of saying “Thank you”, she loudly exclaimed,  “I’m not STUPID, you know!” Walter Heller, a leading American economist of the 1960s, an influential advisor to President Kennedy said one time: “While I was speaking to the Denver Independent Banker’s Association, one of the bankers suddenly hollered out, ‘You’re stupid!’  Well, that may be true, but you don’t like it publicly acknowledged.  Five minutes later, I tried to keep my composure when he said the same thing.  I noticed a slight slur in his voice.  So I was ready for him the third time when he said, ‘You’re stupid!’  I retorted, ‘Yes, and you’re drunk!’  He replied, ‘Yes, but tomorrow I will be sober and you will still be stupid.’ I believe that many Americans aren’t to bright.  How can a person living in America the Beautiful, not believe in JESUS– where there are so many churches and so much preaching of Christ on TV? There is a point, when God will no longer overlook ignorance.  It’s beyond me how anyone living in this country and most parts of the world, where anyone could say, “WHO’S JESUS?” Ignorance and Apathy–What is the difference?  I don’t know and I don’t care. Many people don’t know about JESUS and don’t care to know about JESUS.  BUT THERE IS A TIME WHEN GOD WILL NO LONGER OVERLOOK IGNORANCE AND INDIFFERENCE.  And I think, we’re living in that time! “NOW IS THE TIME!” Right now, in the communities we are living in, now is the time for people to believe in JESUS and become a follower of His.  A time for people to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” Are we GUILTY of not doing as JESUS tell us to do recorded in Scripture?  That is a rhetorical question.  We are ALL GUILTY.  It’s relatively easy to say, “I believe in Jesus,” but it could be a different matter when it comes down to the “doing it”; what we know He wants us to do. YES, It’s Time! It is time people quit playing IGNORANT.  I’m confident in saying that many people in America believe in JESUS but…they just don’t want to commit to Him in any form.  Probably because they’re having too much fun right now where they are in life.  They may fear, by making a public confession of faith in JESUS …the FUN MAY END!  But that’s when the real fun begins! THE GIVEN PROOF--(verse 31): “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he raised him from the dead”  (KJV). GOD’S WORK CONFIRMS HIS WORD:  What Word? In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. GOD CONFIRMS HIS WORD WITH ANOTHER PROOF:  What’s that?  Why are we here today? Further Evidence– It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that PROVES… the God who made the world we live in today.  One writer put it this way:  JESUS predicted His own resurrection; the Old Testament prophesied it; the tomb was empty; the grave-clothes were vacant; many people saw the resurrected Christ–looked on His face; touched Him, heard His voice, saw Him eat. The disciples lives were changed forever, as my life was changed forever when I became “born-gain” in 1972.  The RESURRECTION was the central message of the early church and still is today!. Men and women today are testifying to the risen power of Christ (or should be), that transformed their lives.  I love Old Hymns as some of you faithful readers of my blog know.  I use the lyrics of the music to illustrate a Biblical truth (you can add the tune in your own heads). Alfred Ackley wrote a song with a practical example of how God wants to be made known in the ‘right now!’:

He Lives

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;

I know that He is living, whatever men may say;

I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,

And just the time I need Him  He’s always near.

He live, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?

He lives within my heart.

“Why is it thought incredible, by any of you, that God raises the dead?”  (Acts 26:8):

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If God, who made the world, who flung the stars into the sky, who made planet earth keeping everything together, He can make you and me...why should anyone think it’s incredible that He could raise JESUS from the dead?

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The GOD who made the world, does raise the dead; He raised JESUS and He will raise us from the dead while giving us eternal life through our faith.

The EMPTY Tomb
The EMPTY Tomb

BELIEVE IT… STAND ON IT…TRUST IT!

Believe  it with ALL your heart.

PREACH IT…TELL IT…LIVE IT!

IT’S TRUE!

The GOD who made this world wants to be made known.  He no longer overlooks our ignorance and has PROVED HIMSELF CONVINCINGLY.  Now is the time, if you haven’t already made the decision to follow Him.  For a time is coming…and then, it will be too late to repent.

Maybe All I Need Is to Take A Vitamin !

THE FAITH VITAMIN:

If you are thinking to yourself right now,  “Another Blog-post about ‘FAITH’?” — I certainly hope, by the end of this page, you just might have a different perspective on the topic.

A.W. Tozier once said, “faith is the vitamin that makes all we take from the bible digestible.”

— We are SAVED by Faith.

— We walk by Faith.

— We are in the household of Faith.

TEXT:  ACTS 14:9, 10

[9] “This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze upon him, and had seen that he had faith to be made well,  [10]  said with a loud voice,  ‘Stand upright on your feet.’  And he leaped up and began to walk”  (NASB).

FAITH is perhaps one, if not the most important element necessary, to grow in the Christian walk.  George Muller , a Christian Evangelist, said “The beginning of anxiety is the end of FAITH and the beginning of true FAITH is the end of anxiety.”  If anyone would know the impact of those words, it would be Mr. Mueller.  He cared for 10,024 orphans in his lifetime (Wikipedia).

FAITH IS THE KEY:

This KEY that becomes available for us as Christians, unlocks the supernatural realm in our natural existence here on earth.

It is a journey–

Desert Wilderness
Desert Wilderness

Poor old Moses spent 40 years wandering in the desert eating nothing but bread off the ground, an occasional bird, and everyday, a million plus people would come up to him and ask,  “Are we there yet?”

Romans 12:3 tells us,  “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgement, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith”  (NASB).

What we do with it, how we use it, is up to us.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us WITHOUT FAITH…we can never make God happy.

We can’t compare our faith with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  Please don’t do that!

Comparing will only lead to division–

There were three little kids who were talking after school one day.  One said, My brother is taking horseback lessons.  Another said, Well, my sister takes gymnastics.  The third child, not wanting to be outdone said, Well that’s nothing.  My sister takes antibiotics!”

TWO THINGS ARE TRUE ABOUT FAITH PEOPLE:

“People with FAITH feel like good things are about to happen!”

FEAR is the exact opposite of FAITH:

FAITH believes the absolute best will happen in every situation.

Being a Pollyanna Versus Being Faithful–

Webster’s Dictionary says one who is considered to be a POLLYANNA, is a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything.  So i think the two have similar qualities…but different at the same time.  One is God based (faithful) and one is personality induced (Pollyanna).  

THE NATURE OF FAITH IS…

“NOW FAITH is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”  (Hebrews 11:1).

So what does FAITH really look like?

In meditating [kept reading until the words spoke back to me] on Acts 14:9, I see a man crippled in his feet since birth.  He has never taken a step forward in his life; never ran barefoot through the grass in the park; never felt the hot beach sand between his toes.  He was just sitting there where he had been placed.

Many times over my life I’ve found my lack of faith was because…I was still sitting in the place where God put me long ago; never moving forward to what He had planned for in my spiritual life.  I had become weak in FAITH–giving up and not standing on God’s promises.

God Requires Legs of Faith–

What do I mean by “legs”?  It’s putting legs on our faith (like the crippled man), our praises and our prayer life so that we can move on to higher levels.

“And he leaped up and walked”  (verse 10).

NO FAITH…he would have remained sitting in the same spot…stilled crippled!  Have you ever felt “crippled” in you faith?

FAITH GETS YOUR ATTENTION:

“He was listening to Paul as he talked, and [Paul} gazing intently at him and observing that he had faith to be healed”  (Acts 14:9).

PEOPLE around you are listening and watching your FAITH–

This man listened to Paul as he spoke and when Paul fastened his eyes (or “gazed intently”) upon the crippled man, everything else went out of focus except…for what he understood in this man’s eyes.

Before we are able to SHARE THE GOSPEL we have to look at and notice others.

I have sometimes been in a conversation with someone after church services, when I began to notice their eyes.  The were not looking in my eyes any longer as we spoke.  Were they not interested in what I was saying?  Did I have a dirty spot on the front of my shirt I hadn’t noticed?  Their FOCUS had changed in a different direction; waving to someone towards the back of the auditorium, saying , “Excuse me, I haven’t seen that person in years!” , and off they go.  Did I miss something, did they?

Many folk are afraid to share and won’t look intently.  One man said to me in an Evangelism Training Program,  “Nothing strikes fear in me more than sharing my faith with a complete stranger.”  Why, it’s gotten so bad, I’ve enrolled in a Witness Relocation program!  [I added the last sentence to illustrate the thought].

What Paul saw was expectancy and enthusiasm–

“…and he leaped up and walked”  (verse 10).

Paul saw this man who was now leaping up and down on the inside.

FAITH looked like unbridled enthusiasm.

San Diego Billy Graham Crusade
San Diego Billy Graham Crusade

I remember once being a counselor at a Billy Graham Crusade in San Diego, California.  The Crusades ran for several days and I had experience great joy in seeing many come to Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit within me and other counselors each night.

It was the last night of the Crusade and as the football stadium’s field began to clear, I turned to leave and notice two large men carrying a man in uniform by his arms towards me.  The soldier’s feet weren’t even touching the ground.  I stood there frozen, wandering what was coming next, when one of the men spoke up and said:  We are Marines!  We were SAVED on the first night and this Marine Private… needs to be SAVED too!  I had to explain to them,  JESUS doesn’t move like that.  That SALVATION comes from your friend by his FAITH in Jesus…not by your faith in Jesus.  He has to make his own choice.

I then asked the young Marine who was now standing on the grass between the two larger men [they had to be at least 6′ 4″],   “Would you like to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior tonight? ” He nodded yes, and accepted Christ.

What was his motivation?  Was it more than his friends insistence he come forward?  I can’t answer that question, but what I experienced was the expectancy and enthusiasm of two Marines who were inexperienced in their sharing JESUS, but had the FAITH to use their legs and leave the results to God!

Billy Graham Crusade as a Counselor
Billy Graham Crusade as a Counselor

“Launching Out in FAITH!”

Peter, in Luke 5,  is told by Jesus to “Put out into deep [water], and lower your nets for a haul” (verse 4).  In other words, go out beyond the boundaries you are comfortable in… that you’ve accepted for yourself in life.  Expand your perimeter, your comfort zone; start to think and live out of the box!

A Practicable Exercise After Taking the FAITH VITAMIN–

I was taking an Evangelism Training Class on Saturdays years ago, and asked my wife if she wanted to go along with me for the training session; the exercise.  Reluctantly, she agreed, and after our Pastor/teacher briefed us, we ventured out to the surrounding neighborhood on foot.  We both looked at each other and confessed, this was going to take a lot of FAITH,

On that particular Saturday morning, the one that I had invited my wife to attend, was…DOOR-TO-DOOR EVANGELISM.  Yep, you got it.  We were assigned street addresses and were to apply what we had learned in the classroom…door-to-door.

After several doors being shut in our faces, one man came to the door and actually seemed interested in what we were presenting (The Gospel Message of Salvation through the 4-Spiritual Laws).

A Hidden Voice–

“Who’s at the door?” a woman’s voice rang  out of nowhere.  “Don’t be talking to those people!  Close the door!”  I didn’t want to be rude and offend, but the Holy Spirit was telling me the whole time we were there…DON’T STOP SHARING...and our FAITH kept increasing.  

The man stepped outside onto the small porch, telling us that the voice we heard…was his wife, who was a Jehovah’s Witness.  We both thought later, this was certainly a “role-reversal”.

That was an experience that Dianne and I will always remember.  We were expanding our perimeter, our comfort zone, and were definitely living out of our boxes.  We both knew, by FAITH and confidence in His Word, that we were to go–with our feet–comfortable or not.

We left that house knowing, we had planted a Word-seed.  We had been faithful to God’s Word.  The results were up to Him and  based on our faithfulness and obedience to His Word and not by our works.

NO LIMITS HERE!

When we limit ourselves, we limit God.

FAITH knows that what we see is not all there is.  

What we are, is not all we will be.  

Where we are is not where we will end up.  

FAITH looks like unlimited potential.

Exhausting Every Human Resource Available–

In the Gospel of Mark, there was a woman who had been ill for 12 long years, exhausted from trying to get well.  All she had received back was bad reports.  In fact, instead of getting better, she go worse!

When she heard about Jesus, she went after Him (though it was against Jewish law to do so in public).  Because she thought to herself, if I can get close enough, to touch Him… I’ll be better!

That’s HOPE!

One definition of HOPE is, “A heartfelt expectation of something with an outstretched neck!”   She was expecting and willing to risk it all!

FAITHFULNESS is the willingness to take risks (with “an outstretched neck”); and that requires FAITH in order to produce the visible fruit.

So that they [us] should seek God, in the hope

that they might feel after Him and find Him,

although He is not far away from each one of us.

For in Him we live and move and have our being…

Acts 17:27-28

WHAT “FAITH” IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT:

FAITH IS… dead to doubt.

FAITH IS…blind to impossibilities.

FAITH knows nothing but success in God Almighty through the POWER AND AUTHORITY He gives every believer.

FAITH IS NOT believing that God can, but it’s knowing that God will!

Hebrews 11:1 says that,

“Faith is the substance (that which stands by you/along side) the committed, unrelenting, unflinching confidence or companion of things hope for,    And the evidence (revelation, illumination) of things that are not visible to the natural eye.”

Taking the “FAITH VITAMIN” Produces Action–

Hebrews 11, “The Heroes Hall of Faith” Chapter, gives an illustration of the heroes of the Bible who took the faith vitamin:

[32]  And what shall I say further?  For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.  [33] Who by [the help of] FAITH subdued kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promised blessings, closed the mouth of lions.”

Those Scripture verses tells us that FAITH subdued, FAITH worked, FAITH obtained, even stopped the mouth of a lion.

What then does FAITH look like?

When you find JESUS, you find the author (creator), finisher (completer) of your FAITH.  Christ in you…is the HOPE of Glory!  It’s time for all of us to take our daily Multi-Faith Vitamin and watch for the healthy results.