Posted by: Heather | July 8, 2010

It’s the Real Thing…or is it?

Matthew 16:1-4  (NIV)  The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.  2  He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’   3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.   4   A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.

My 17 year old son Kevin is a most discerning young man.  I have seen several times in his young life when he was more spiritually discerning about things than I was.  Over the past few years, I’ve watched him make many decisions based on that discernment that were absolutely correct at the time.  For example, he was once invited to go to a gospel concert that he was incredibly excited about.  Some of his favorite groups were to be there, and he had been anticipating it for months.  However, as the day drew closer, he became more and more uneasy about going.  He kept trying to put his finger on why he was so uncomfortable, but no answer was to be found.  The day of the concert, he resigned himself to not going.  Because of his uneasiness, he was afraid that maybe this was somehow the Lord’s way of protecting him from some harm that might happen if he went.

However, the evening of the event would tell a different story.  The entire family was home that night, except my husband, who was at the fire station working, and would have been unable to get off except for a dire emergency.  I became extremely ill that evening, and at the time, 3 of my 5 children were under the age of 6.  Had he not been there to help me, I wouldn’t have been able to take care of the children, because I was completely incapacitated.  I for one, was truly thankful for his discernment, and his willingness to follow through with what he felt.  Had he not done that, I would have been ‘up a creek without a paddle’, so to speak.

I’ve come to appreciate this quality about him more and more over the years.  He has a discernment that most adults I know don’t have, and I’ve come to trust his judgment on many matters because of it.  We’ve talked over some of the times that he felt something was wrong, and I didn’t even realize it.  I was ashamed of myself for not giving these particular things more thought and prayer at the time.

I suppose I marvel at this in him because he’s such a young man, and has displayed this quality since he was very young, probably age 10-12.  And, when I look around at the church world as a whole, discernment seems to be at an all time low.  I’ve seen many things that have been allowed in infiltrate the church that aren’t entirely biblical, and some that are completely unbiblical.  We’re learning to lean on our own feelings instead of the only source that will never fail; the Word of God.

Many are leaning toward anything they feel will give them a greater connection with God.  New Age methods of meditation and ‘getting in touch’ with ourselves take the place of sincere prayer and true study of God’s Word.  It seems new experiences and avenues to ‘get closer to God’ are popping up everywhere.  A subjective experience is desired more than the experience of knowing God intimately through the pages of the Bible.  It’s not that I believe those that seek that type of experience are not sincere.  On the contrary, I believe they are probably very sincere, and desire to touch God more closely.  After all, humans were created with the need to worship God, who is greater than we are.  The problem comes when the god (little g) that is worshipped is not the one and only true God.

On the other hand, I’m also not saying that we as humans can’t have experience with the one and only true God.  We see multiple times in the Bible where God met with His people, either individually or corporately.  My concern is that I see many who expect such visitations on a continual basis, without a related amount of study.  I figure in the eyes of many, I’ve become too ‘old school’, because at this point in my life, I consider knowing and learning more about the Word of God THE most important thing in my life, and I feel it should be for any Christian.

I believe I have a good reason for this.  Jesus gives a stern warning in Matthew 24:23-24  (NIV)  At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.  24  For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-if that were possible. The word ‘possible’ here doesn’t mean that God will not allow the elect to be deceived, therefore we don’t have to be concerned.  It means that the potential exists, that if the elect allow themselves to be deceived, they can be.  And the avenue of deception in this passage is signs and miracles.  This in itself should help us see that just because a good outcome is attained, does not mean that a particular experience comes from God.  This scripture clearly tells us that false christs and false prophets will be able to do great signs and miracles, using them as a way to deceive God’s people.

How do we keep ourselves from being deceived?  Certainly all of the Christian disciplines are necessary.  Prayer is essential.  Reading God’s Word is needed.  There are also things we don’t think of that build us as Christians.  Regular fellowship with other believers, inside and outside of the church setting is very helpful.  It’s during the times that ‘iron sharpens iron’, and we can be accountable to others.  We need our beliefs and opinions challenged, otherwise we don’t grow.  But again, in my opinion, study is the most important.  We have to be able to gauge our experiences by biblical precedent.  If we have no idea of what biblical precedent is, we can’t weigh experience against it.

II Timothy 2:15 says;  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. If this were paraphrased using the Strong’s definitions of these words, it would say something like this:  Exert yourself and give diligence to making sure you are acceptable and pleasing to God, being a teacher that promotes Christianity among men and has no reason to be ashamed, because he teaches the truth directly and correctly.  The only way we can do that is to be in the Word.

Going to church is a wonderful thing, and it promotes the fellowship that helps us grow.  But, if we approached our physical needs for food the same way we approach our spiritual needs, a majority of the church world would die.    For many, the only Bible they hear or read is in church on Sunday morning.  But, if you only ate one physical meal per week, how weak would your body become?   Even if we ate 3 meals per week, that might be a bit better, but still not sufficient.  We expect to eat food daily, unless we’re fasting for some reason or another.  Yet, if we choose not to study at home, we’re asking our spirit to live on 1-3 meals a week.  With only that much physical food in our natural bodies, we may begin to ‘see’ food when it isn’t there.  In the same way, when our spirit is starved, it may receive an experience that is not from God, and attribute it to God.

I was talking to a friend of mine recently, and she told me she has a friend that used to work for the US Treasury.  Her friend told her you don’t learn what counterfeit money looks like by studying the counterfeit.  You learn so well what real money looks like, that when a counterfeit crosses your path, you immediately recognize it.  This is the approach we should be taking as children of God when faced with any experience.

It could be the real thing…but then again, it might not be.  We must study to be sure.  May we become greater students of God’s Word during these troubled times to keep ourselves away from deception.

God bless you today!

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Responses

  1. Hi Brethren,
    Your teachings are highly spiritually driven and may God be blessed for that. How wonderful it will be for our small group here in africa to be sharing more with you for the glory of God.We shall continue to read and be enriched and also use this to reach even more who are spiritually and even materially poor so that God’s message may reah everyone before His second coming.
    We really would like to share with you. Are we welcome?
    Shalom brethren.
    David.

    • David,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I am very honored that you would share the teachings here. God bless you for the work you do for Him!!

  2. Thank you Sandy! I hope you all are doing well! 🙂

  3. Thank you for the blessing of your teaching Heather!


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