Tag Archive: Discernment



“Because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” -1 Corinthians 16:9

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The next several verses, because of a vision I had, are going to concern doors. Why this is I cover in my previous entry. The term, “open door,” in the contemporary lexicon, tends to equate to an opportunity. However, after some study of the Scripture, we come to find this metaphor is nothing new, and has been in the popular lexicon since many generations past. In this verse, Paul uses the analogy, in the popular fashion.

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Paul tells us about a door that was opened for him that he may accomplish the “effective work,” the Lord had purposed. Furthermore, Paul tells us that this door is large in scale and thereby, not only was Paul’s purpose great, but in addition, it seems that it took a mighty power to budge the door, due to its enormous size. The Lord is the only one capable of opening these great doors of opportunity. If attempted by our own accord, we find the way either blocked by our inability to open such doors, or we find them completely inaccessible.

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If we do somehow open a door of Godly opportunity of our own accord, we often may find that the door wasn’t as large as we supposed, and our work may be less effective. It’s important to mention that I am not talking about mere worldly doors, as in opportunities in business or human pleasure. Rather, these are Godly opportunities, that culminate in the great works that change lives, instruct, and leads others to the Lord. The greatest commandments as mentioned by Christ say nothing about worldly success or the fulfillment of pride or carnal desires. Instead, we find the two greatest commandments to be the necessary conditions for adding to the population of heaven. To love the Lord with all your being and love others are the main ingredients when embarking on the blessed mission of the great commission.

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The great door of opportunity which was opened unto Paul, was one that truly was great in scope, for He almost single handedly brought the Gospel to the Gentiles. The Lord is willing and able to open great doors for us concerning this purpose. It may take profound discernment in identifying these doors, but they are there. Pray that the Lord may open these doors for you in order that you might effectively do His work, for if you, again, embark on this because of your your own accord, be warned that the enemy can take even the best intentions and pervert them to do harm.

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Let the Lord lead you to where you have the opportunity to make the biggest impact in the ministry. In addition, pray that the Lord may open up avenues of conversation that you may effectively share the gospel to another, imploring them to see the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that they might be saved from eternal damnation.

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Finally, despite our Lord opening these doors, this doesn’t mean that our mission is easy by any means. In fact, as Paul states, many will oppose us, just for our faith alone. Do not lose heart because of challenges or suppose that you made a wrong turn due to them. You may still be exactly where the Lord wants you to be despite the opposition and challenges that arise. The great door of opportunity does not negate hardships, in fact, it may profoundly increase them. Yet, do not despair, for the Lord has His time and season planned out for you, that He won’t spring the door open until you are ready. Pray that the Lord would make you ready and that the great door may be opened for you to take your special place in accomplishing His will.

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“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” -Romans 12:3

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"The Confusion of Tongues," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

In my earlier post concerning 2 Corinthians 10:7 entitled, “On Proper Pride and Humility,” I discussed a little about the relative aspects of pride and a few ways one can avoid this particular sin in their life. Yet, I feel some added clarification is required, that we may gain a deeper understanding of this sin, in order that it might be identified. Pride has great ability at concealing itself in ones life, by defining it with more clarity, we may illuminate it.

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Pride at its very core is a lie and deceitful. To have pride in oneself, is to take those attributes one has been granted by God and embellish upon them so they become more than they are. As Paul urges, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” This in essence it what pride is, to think of oneself more highly than you should, or to think about a particular attribute more than you should.

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Therefore, if you stand in front of a mirror and suck it in and flex periodically, as I have been known to do, you are exercising that pride. Also, if you are a big, “Rock Band” fan and picture yourself in your minds eye playing in front of a crowd of screaming women, or men, this is also prideful. Do not use your mind and heart to exalt and exaggerate the self, for to do so is incredibly sinful. In addition, because you will fall short in this elaboration, this can lead to extreme depression, when one doesn’t match up to the conception offered up by the sinful mind.

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In atheism, a popular argument against God’s being, is that if He existed or exists than He is an extremely prideful being. Yet, when we take Paul’s definition, we find this not to be the case at all. God knows exactly who He is and cannot be anything different. Furthermore, because he is the thing-above-which-no-greater-can-be-thought, as defined perfectly in St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Argument, He is perfectly worthy of worship. In fact, due to God’s knowledge of exactly what He is, this is humility.

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"Sistine Chapel Ceiling (detail)," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1508-1512

Paul continues saying, “think of yourself in sober judgment.” This is what humility is when it is in, “accordance with the faith God has distributed.” This being the case then it negates the idea of God being a prideful, and thereby sinful deity. God cannot deceive Himself, for this would present an irreconcilable contradiction, for He would have to imagine Himself greater than He is, which is an impossibility when one applies the definition of God offered by Anselm.

This verse suggests something which may give some insight into what human nature consists of. We are told, again, to think of ourselves in sober judgment in accordance with our faith in Christ. Thereby, since faith plays such a roll in the sober judgement of self, the question arises if we can have any victory against pride away from Christ? I would argue we can’t for the world is based on the self and the flesh. This sin of pride is the very same that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden. In a world where even good actions are self serving and motivated by the self, this doesn’t seem like a complete absurdity.

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"Adam and Eve Expelled," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

To be in accordance with one’s faith, we need to realize that we are indeed imperfect and sinful. This is how Paul had such a lowly conception of himself without sinning. Paul realized how much of a sinner he was and how unworthy he was to both serve God, and be offered grace through Jesus Christ. Paul was completely humble in that he knew what he was and worked for God to serve all man and almost singlehandedly brought about the New Israel among the Gentiles.

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Remember to use discernment and do not elaborately adorn yourself with things like makeup, clothing (but please do wear clothes), jewelry, and anything that you use to magnify your being. This goes for both men and women. Yet, at the same time, we do not need to look like we just crawled out of a gutter whenever we go out in public, but we should use, “sober judgement in accordance with the faith.” Do not attempt to hide the beauty of being that goes beyond mere appearances, but be modest. God has granted you many things and because God is perfect, they are perfect. Do not magnify it by means of worldly things to either please the self or others, for this is a stumbling block to both, and sinful.

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Finally, God has distributed the Spirit to all those in the faith. I can’t address every context and every situation, for such wisdom and omniscience belongs to God alone. Pray to the Lord that He may reveal you by the Spirit of Truth, if such sin is present, and to what degree. Pray that He would help and instruct you how to walk that thin line between both pride and envy, that you may see yourself for who you are, a precious child of the Most High.

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“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows.” -2 Corinthians 12:2

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It should be no secret to those who follow the Lord that there is indeed a supernatural aspect to our faith. The deeper our relationship with the Lord becomes, the more this is manifest within our lives. It does not follow the common course of things, causality and physicality, but rather surpasses it and our mystical (not in a pagan sense, indeed the word actually has its origins in Christianity) relationship with God becomes apparent.

A person who chases after these experiences alone, however, is in extreme danger of practicing that which belongs to the occult. Man should never initiate such experiences, but let them come at the Lord’s bidding and when He sees fit to make them manifest, and to what degree.

There are numerous supernatural manifestations that can occur when one is in the Lord. These range from prophecy, visions, dreams, miraculous healings, and even hearing, or speaking, directly from the Lord Himself. It should be mentioned there is a dualism concerning such things, for the occult has similar practices, but there is one major difference, one is perpetuated by man, the other by the Lord, and manifest in man or nature.

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Paul, no stranger to the miraculous, recounts the story of an unnamed man who was caught up to the third heaven. This, “Third Heaven,” doesn’t indicate that there are separate layers of paradise, but in this account, it suggests that wherever this person was taken, it transcends the upper atmosphere of the earth, the surpassing heaven, the firmament of the cosmos, and finally into that supernatural realm which is the dwelling place of God. What is therefore concluded by the mere existence of this third heaven is that it trumps all that is physical.

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Paul goes on to say that he doesn’t know if this person’s experience was in the body or independent of it. The interesting thing about this, among others, is that regardless, in Paul’s mind, it neither adds nor detracts from the reality of the experience. To Paul, either way, it doesn’t cease to be any less real.

There is a phenomenon some experience called, “waking dreams.” Though it has it’s ungodly representation in the occult, Christians too have these experiences, from God, where they neither know if they are awake or dreaming, or if they are of the body or a part from it. The question becomes if any of these categories negate the reality of the experience? My conviction is that it doesn’t necessarily follow that these encounters are any less real than the physical ground we walk on. In fact, they may represent to some degree true reality.

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As I have stressed before, the occult has similar practices. Apart from who initiates the experience, is there any way to tell one from another? I am convinced that there are some guidelines we should look to when approaching the subject.

The first is, who does it glorify? Realize the Lord does nothing arbitrarily and without purpose. For instance, He wouldn’t lift you up to the third heaven just to satisfy some personal curiosity you may have concerning it. Rather, the experience will be for not only your benefit, which is apparent by the mere personal nature of the experience, but the Lord will use it in order that you be a testimony before man. Thus, it will be to His glory.

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Second, where does it lead you? If one is led to a place of darkness apart from God, or if the experience makes you focus on the self, then one is in terrible danger. If such an experience leads one to become boastful of their own abilities to produce such a supernatural experience, than one can reasonably conclude it is not from God, and if it is not from God, than one is being deceived.

Deception wouldn’t be called such if it didn’t have the ability to put on a guise of something true and lead people astray. That’s why it is so effective. One should pray for discernment in the Spirit and protection of the Lord, that such deceptions may not lead you into believing a lie. We need to realize that the Great Deceiver never created anything himself, he only perverted those pure things that God set in place. Thus, there is a dualism about such things, the proper, and the sinful, or improper.

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If an experience produces fruits of a Godly nature, and it’s in perfect alignment with the Spirit and nature of God revealed in His scriptures, than one can induce that it’s from God.

Yet, on the antithesis, if an experience produces fruits of the self, pride and encourages sin, and leads people astray, along with not lining up with scripture, then one can deduce that it is not from God. Yet, it should be said that we need discernment in the Spirit, for the Spirit is capable of understanding the supernatural, while our minds are inept at knowing such things. Remember, such false supernatural occurrences are due to the actions of man and not the will of God.

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Finally, realize our God is not one of confusion. Chances are, He won’t let such experiences in your life, that are of Him, until you are ready. However, as we grow, use the faculties the Lord has given you, along with the weapons of righteousness, that in these supernatural manifestations, if they indeed occur, you may not be led astray.

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“But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'”-2 Corinthians 10:17

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When we try and examine it to determine what is proper or not, we find pride and its kin to be a curious batch. Some may believe that pride of any kind is bad, some maybe of only the self, and even some perhaps feel as long as it doesn’t encroach upon God, then a certain amount might be okay.

Well, according to Paul there is one thing we can take pride in and that’s our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, we are granted permission to boast of what our Lord has done in the presence of all man. We should boast in both what Christ has done for us, or through us. It is proper to feel honored that the Lord may choose you to accomplish His will, but the moment that realization goes to our ego, it becomes wrong. To keep from this pride realize that Christ is always working through you and in addition, to keep others from stumbling, realize that Christ works through others as well.

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Yet, the Lord has given us a sense of joy and accomplishment that we frequently feel in our lives. This is where I may get some disagreements, but to not acknowledge ones gifts seems of false humility and in itself sinful. Therefore, there needs to be some reconciliation between pride and acknowledgement of ones efforts.

When we come to Christ it is a relationship and you have a hand in all things Christ does. This is no secret for we are told we share in His glory. Should one be “proud” of ones accomplishments and their striving to lead a godly life? I don’t think realization of this is any issue, if kept in proper perspective. What all these sins have in common are comparisons. When one feels prideful, unhealthily, we juxtapose ourselves with others and consider ourselves “better” or “greater” then they are for any number of reasons. This feeds pride.

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Envy is the exact opposite, when one compares themselves with another and finds themselves lacking in relation to their own conception of the “greatness” of that other party. In addition, we find there are things that people take pride in like their children. God the Father said of His Son, in Matthew 3:17, that He is, “Well pleased.”

So what is true humility? I am under the impression that a true humble person who opens themselves to the Lord and let’s Him work through them, does not compare himself/herself to anyone, but merely focuses more, not on the stature and status of those around them, but rather how their relationship with God is developing. A developing relationship with God is bound to produce fruits and one can acknowledge those with no sin. However, if say, one were to compare the godliness of himself/herself with someone else, than this is sinful. Do not compare yourself to others in this way, for all members of the Body of Christ are important.

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Do not be so hesitant concerning the sin of pride that in seeking to be humble you deny those things the Lord has given you. Would Michael Jordan say he wasn’t very good at basketball? This would be absurd and thereby false humility. The thing about false humility is that it usually serves pride more than any simple acknowledgement of God’s particular gift would. If one gives proper thanks to the Lord, uses it for the purpose He has designated it for in your life, and you don’t compare it to other gifts or those who may have a same gift, then this is true humility. Remember most of pride is based on a foundation of that which is relative. Take the relativity out of it and you may gain discernment through this, and prayer, on how to live a humble life and respond properly as any given situation demands.

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“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” -Proverbs 12:1

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Like it or not, and sometimes we certainly don’t, discipline is an important aspect of life that everyone goes through at one time or another. Whether it be from God, our parents, our boss, friends, or dare I say it, even the law, if we approach discipline with the proper reverence, it can culminate in a blessing rather than a burden. This point is echoed, rather pioneered, elsewhere in the scriptures, when it tells us:

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” -Hebrews 12:11

It is not uncommon for man, in his pride, to look at discipline with bitterness, but Proverbs tells us we are viewing it in the wrong way, especially when the discipline comes from the Lord. We are to humbly accept this discipline, for the discipline of the Lord is perfect, good, done for our own good, and motivated by His love for us (Hebrews 12:5-8). Thus, look to God’s discipline as a means of moving you forward, closer to our Lord, instead of letting it become a hindrance to your walk, which can become manifest due to prideful bitterness. The Lord keeps those who are His and calls upon them. His intention is not to push you away due to discipline. As Hebrews tells us, discipline isn’t exactly pleasant, but its an instrument used by the Lord, in order that we may share in his holiness.
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Pride is a major stumbling block to looking at discipline and correction in such ways as the Bible urges. Man, even on an individual level, enjoys feeling that they are perfect and beyond reproach. Thus, when one is corrected in a misconception, then its not to uncommon for the one being corrected to respond in anger, not out of logic, but out of desperation when their pride is pierced. Though remember, there is always the chance you may try to rebuke someone and find out your actually the one needing to be corrected. This happens to me frequently.

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When one corrects you, realize that you have an opportunity. An opportunity to gain wisdom and knowledge. These opportunities are indispensable, for if you are in the wrong, realize with a proper reaction, you can be made right, and such knowledge may come to serve you and the Lord in the future.

Do not let your pride negate the correction before you, for to be corrected is a blessing that is beyond measure. Our pride, however, at times lets us not accept the correction, and this can be dangerous considering our personal growth in the Lord. Take your correction with praise and realize that another piece of knowledge or wisdom has entered your repertoire, and for that thanks should be given! If you have trouble accepting correction, realize and identify it, and pray to our Lord that you may develop a heart of humbleness.

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If you want to be stupid, then don’t accept any correction and blame your discipline on everyone else. Could you imagine how things would be if nobody accepted any correction? Your mind would be utterly blank and any argumentation posed against you could only be answered with anger and hate. We are not called to these things. Bless those that have corrected you, and praise the Lord that He has sent correction your way. With that I pray you would grow into a man/woman of God, with the wisdom, knowledge, and discernment to be able to lead a multitude to our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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"Jesus Walks on Water," by Ivan Aivazovsky. oil on canvas, c. 1888


“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” -Matthew 7:16

PhotobucketAs we travel along the busy thoroughfare we call life, we form many ideas and opinions of those we encounter along the way. A popular response from people when they suspect our opinion, or when we offer a rebuke of their sin is, “Don’t you judge me!” Usually, this is not so much to do with those who offer the conviction, as it has to do with the person who feels they are being judged. When we rebuke someone due to their lifestyle or actions in accordance with the Lord’s urging, it’s never comfortable. We should know this from experience.

Now the scriptures also tell us that we should not judge, so the reconciliation between what is proper and what isn’t takes some discernment through a relationship with the Lord. For instance, we shouldn’t judge on an issue we ourselves are indulging in, lest we become hypocrites. The word hypocrite I feel is immensely overused. Understand that we can convict and hold each other accountable while still struggling, for we all are sinners and in such contexts not only should the truth be shared, but also our own shortcomings in a particular area, whatever that may be. These urgings, through the Lord produce accountability and victory. If we gain a victory through Christ, convict others, and later stumble, this isn’t hypocrisy, though we by sinning are certainly in error. Hypocrisy is when one willfully engages in their iniquity, not holding themselves to a particular standard, but at the same time, holding others to it and judging them due to that same error evident in their own life.

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Of course we need to judge, for if we didn’t how would we know a good situation from a bad one, or a person that will forward our lives and faith in Christ as opposed to hindering it? It’s apparent that when applied as an absolute, even our judicial system would collapse in that we couldn’t hold each other responsible for their actions, nor would there be such a thing as guilty or innocent in a court of law. We need that discernment, to know when it is appropriate, lest we fall more often and find ourselves in a place where we could very justly be cut down and thrown into the fire, or even lead others to such a place.

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Although this verse talks explicitly about false prophets, we can implicitly find plenty of truth concerning how we must view others in general, in order that our walk with the Lord may be protected. Men, and women, are masters of deception. It’s unfortunate, and although we want to sometimes trust everyone, especially when a person evokes the name of Christ, the previous verse, Matthew 7:15, makes it abundantly clear that all that claim Christ, don’t necessarily belong to Him.

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False Prophet Manasseh Jordan, who along with his father, E. Bernard Jordan, not only claim him to be a prophet of God, but God Himself.

How do we recognize them and protect ourselves? Jesus tells us that we should look to the fruit that people produce. Not just those wolves who claim the name of Christ, or even have a lofty position in the Body of Christ, but this can apply to anyone.

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Sunday and Monday, I didn’t post due to a exciting day I had at church and a couple days in which I was in close fellowship with great friends and those in Christ. I wrote the first part of this article and attended afterward, for a time, a conference at a local church. I also got hands laid on me and got a few prophecies revealed to me as to the direction my life is going in Christ. Yet, as exciting as it was, I also found myself somewhat skeptical of the abilities in the Spirit, which some professed, by mere action, to have been granted.

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I was plagued by the question of whether or not I was in the right by being skeptical of such things? Was I being too judgmental. In all honesty and simplicity, I trust in the Lord, but I don’t trust in man. Now, as I begin to finish this article, and I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me at the time of these prophetic occurrences, I realized that just a half-hour prior that the Lord had already answered the question I would later pose to myself. I was informed by a person very dear in my life that supposedly this happens quite a lot to me, and I, of course, praise the Lord for his timely response concerning my constant questioning.

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By the verse, and indeed those surrounding it, in correlation with the questions that were raised in my heart, it is apparent that skepticism concerning the gifts of the Spirit and those who profess to have acquired them, is both a good thing and a bad thing. In one sense it protects us, and in another it may hinder us. Personally, I believe that within my life time I have had the skepticism affect me in both aforementioned ways and I have stumbled and engaged both extremes of the spectrum.

PhotobucketOften times our skepticism is due to our lack of experience in experiencing something someone else testifies to encountering. Even if we witness it and we haven’t experienced those particular manifestations, those who have, or those it is evident in, can seem strange or to an extent, crazy. Therefore, we may come to the false conclusion that it is faulty or feigned. Though such a conclusion can sometimes be correct, other times it can seriously detain us from learning or experiencing something, especially when concerning our walk with the Lord. In fact, we see many who are so skeptical that the mere idea of God and experiencing Him, is so silly that they consider it some form of mental illness. The fact is, perfectly sane and brilliant people experience God all the time, but due to the skeptics unwillingness to accept God, it’s improbable they will experience God in a life changing way, for they are already surrounded by Him, but fail to recognize because of the hardening of their hearts and skepticism (among other things).

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Yet, on the other hand, those who are completely non-skeptical run the danger of being led astray by falsehood in the name of Christ. This, too, I have experienced. In my example, God and His interaction with us, and even my salvation, was determined by an emotional response. That is, when one has an emotional response to God, this alone determines God’s presence, His power, and to what degree we experience Him. Some will also say without such a response, one ceases to be saved. Not only do some say this, but you begin to say it in yourself, and you equate God and your salvation with that emotional response. Having an emotional response concerning the truth of the Lord and His sacrifice is blessed, but seeking an emotional response in and of itself to experience God is not, for though we may fool ourselves, it is not based on God.

We are emotional creatures, but our relationship with God isn’t determined by emotion. There are times your heart swells and there are times where you feel God is absent, but the latter is never the case. God is always there, through all emotions or none at all. I myself have yelled at God, cried to Him, and laughed in His company. Yet, there have been times where I didn’t “feel” anything. When I was ensnared by this particular brand of  falsehood, I produced the emotional response of my own accord and spoke for the Lord without His urging, but fooled myself that it was indeed from Him. There lies the danger.
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If one has fooled themselves or been fooled that a relationship with God is a strict emotional one, then they will chase after that emotion, looking to that emotion rather than the Lord Himself. To worship an emotion is idolatry, and before you know it, your worship may forgo the Lord altogether. Don’t misunderstand, there are times when emotion is included, absolutely! Yet, there are also times the Lord tests us by pulling away. Is faith really faith if you need that emotional response? It’s much easier to be obedient in emotion, but can you follow the Lord without it? This is a test we are all put through at times. As our relationship with our earthly parents attests, we eventually need to go out from under their wing and live according to our own devices to make it in the world. In the same way our Heavenly Father may pull back in order to see how we do, and if our faith can withstand the test, that we may be ambassadors for the Kingdom.

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When one relies on emotion, it is more based in self than God. Emotion can fool you, and we have the ability to fool ourselves into an emotion. I pray, dear reader, that the Lord may utilize it for His glory in you, but keep it too from ensnaring you. This all being said, how do we know if we are in danger? This answer isn’t a simple one and requires God’s urging and truth to be given unto our hearts.

Do not be fooled by the self, for even the positive good intentions in your life can have a negative effect and hinder you. Be wary of this always. Look to motive in yourself and in others for insight on whether your or others are in danger. Do not let your skepticism steal your joy in the Lord. God does amazing things everyday and such things He wants us to rejoice in. So, keep in The Word that you may be discerning when falsehood is manifest in someone. If it doesn’t follow The Word, then it cannot be of God, because God cannot contradict Himself.
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In order to determine the fruit one bears, one must have fellowship. We can see a gorgeous piece of fruit from afar, but looks can be deceiving. We have no way of knowing whether or not, by viewing at a distance, if that fruit, say, contains a worm, or is sour or bitter. Thus, it comes down to a discernment through God, Prayer, the Word, and an intimate knowledge, through relationships, of those who claim and are in Christ. There are those who have been tragically led astray that will come upon your doorstep one day and make it seem as if you are of like spiritual faith, but that’s a means to ensnare. If you were to  get to know them you’d find their Christ and yours to not be one in the same. One should not assume on mere superficial appearances, but get to know one another. We have been called to develop relationships, so let us do so that we may gain trust in one another in like faith, mutually encourage each other, and protect one another from the skepticism that steals joy and promotes falsehood.

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Again, do not let your skepticism steal your joy, for whoever you encounter and however the Lord is present in them, realize that they are mere men. Yet, God manifests himself in a variety of ways. Be open to this as well and never let your skepticism hinder you from growing with the Lord, or leading someone to Christ. We all have our comfort zone. Understand that discomfort can come both from the enemy and your preconceived notions. We all like the churches we feel most comfortable in, but this may only hinder you from doing God’s work and growing in the Lord. Don’t put limits on God. Be skeptical of man, but never in God. Look to the scriptures, pray, and get to know your brothers and sister in Christ, that you may know to a full degree the fruits of their Christian labors.

A friend of mine told me that skepticism is based in fear. He can’t be more right. Yet, at times, fear can keep us from being caught up in something that may be ungodly, despite its appearance. If there is good fruit, if by friendship and communion, you find them to be trustworthy, if they follow the same Word, then do not let your doubt steal your joy, for gifts are presented to some, but not to others. Never through your skepticism come to the point that just because it’s different or uncomfortable, on that alone, draw the conclusion that it isn’t from God. Again, never be skeptical of God, but be wary of man, who even in the name of God can distort His eternal Name.

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“God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of His Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.” -Romans 1:9,10

Paul’s prayers were extremely humble. In his prayers he prayed not only for what he desired, but he prayed that it would come to pass if, and only if, it were in accordance with God’s will. Paul’s prayers were additionally humble in the way that most of them regard furthering God’s kingdom here on earth.

When reading the accounts of Paul, rarely does he pray for himself, that is in a worldly way or for worldly things. That is not to say God is opposed to asking Him for our needs, quite the contrary, but Paul keenly understood motive and the role it plays in prayer. It is an important question to ask, what are our motives in praying a specific prayer?

Paul always remembered to give thanks. At times, I am granted discernment from the Lord to see the amazing work He is doing in people’s lives, and all too often they ask, but never thank. When I realized I was guilty of this, I was shocked that I could be so selfish and thats exactly what it shows, an overbearing focus on self. The Lord loves to hear from us, and like we feel appreciated when someone thanks us, recognize the Lord’s work in your life and thank Him continually as well. It is amazing how such a simple step can further your relationship with the Lord.


“See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” -Habakkuk 2:4

I regard it as a wonderful and amazing thing that when I first began reading the scriptures and developed my relationship with the Lord, I found some humor to be included in the Bible. I knew it would take some self discipline to sit and read the scriptures, for where I was at I knew the Lord would have plenty to say to me, some of which I probably didn’t want to hear. This isn’t too uncommon and most believers can probably relate to some degree, for when one lives in the darkness, the light can hurt or blind you for a time. Yet, when I began to notice little things that made me smile or laugh, I considered it a huge step towards developing a deeper relationship with God by His Son. Not only did I believe that conceptually, but I also felt it in my spirit.


I shall quickly mention here though, that the humor in the Bible is very different from the humor we are used to in the world, for the humor is never arbitrary, to be funny for the sake of being funny, but it is meant to teach and provide insight at the same time. Also, the humor comes at the appropriate time, meaning that God may have you focus on the lesson at hand, then follow it up by something that may make you chuckle. In a same way, something might make you chuckle to get your attention and then the message might come to you.

What ever the case, its possible we all approach the scriptures individually and maybe some are convicted about reading over the word of God with more of a stone-like countenance, but I ask why? If we do laugh and there is humor in the world, then it follows that it had to originate with God as did everything (See my note on 1 John 4:19, “On Love’s First Cause”). In addition, the potential of humor in evangelism cannot be denied. It is man that perverts humor. I will take this opportunity to confess that I myself have engaged in crass forms of it from time to time, which I am sure Lord didn’t find particularly amusing. Yet, despite my struggles, to me and my walk it was a fantastic realization that God does indeed have a sense of humor.

Thus, during your devotional time, if you find something particularly amusing, don’t be afraid to laugh, for the Scriptures tell us that laughter is a manifestation of joy (Psalm 126:2). The Bible wasn’t meant to be a burden on us, as it can honestly feel like due to the spiritual battle and war against the self in particular times of conviction. Rather, we are told that the yolk is light and to take great joy in God’s word (Jeremiah 15:16). Indeed, it is difficult to read about the crucifixion, for the events are brutal, but paradoxically it’s difficult not to smile when one thinks on Christ going through all the suffering He did for us that we may be saved by what He accomplished, and then appearing to His disciples alive and victorious! Amen!

One prime example of this pure humor is Habakkuk 2:4. I had to laugh, not because of the enemies of God’s existence and their sinful being is funny, but because what the Lord brought to my mind during the reading of this verse. An image of a “puffed-up” cat. Indeed, the very fact the Bible can be said to contain the imagery that is suggested by “puffed-up” is really kind of funny. Yet, despite the humor I find too an important message. Though in worldly humor we can make a person laugh just for the sake of pure entertainment, hardly ever can this humor actually teach us something important, besides maybe revealing the depths of sin by what kind of humor we may or may not indulge in.

This isn’t the case with God, when something strikes us as humorous when reading the word, one also needs to remember to reflect on the meaning and purpose of that particular which brought us to laughter. Again, this this verse is a great example and tells us a few things.

First, that the enemies of God are often bloated with pride. When we look at at the animal kingdom, we see creatures that extend their forms as a whole for a variety a reasons. We see a reliance based on appearance. What I mean is this, a cat does it when he is threatened in order to make himself look bigger than he really is. Thus, it is self manipulation, the cat “knowing” he may be perceived as weak by what he considers a threat. Thereby, the cat attempts to manipulate its appearance and alter how that aforementioned threat might perceive of it. Of course, I will point out a cat is sinless in its display.

We know this is true in many aspects of life. Think about some of the bullies you may have known, or maybe you were even one at one time in the past, or even now (I will pray for you).

Such people are usually putting on a display for any variety of reasons and though the cat does it for protection, such men do it because egoism, pride, or for the desire to be prideful in some thing, even if it means puffing themselves up to torture others, for they feel the more people they have underfoot, the greater they are. This consequently adds to their pride. The sad thing is we all tend to fall for the “puffed up” guise.

Secondly, those who act in like manner are not virtuous people. They rise up against anything that challenges them or threatens their pride, which by the way, is extremely fragile. They indulge in all glorifications of the senses and forgo the spirit, mind and God, for such a person cannot be hindered by such ridiculousness. They are threatened by those who have security and contentment, and will ruthlessly mock or attack those who have acquired it, for it is what they truly desire, but they remain bitter that through their comfortable means they cannot attain it, and indeed mock all other system of intermediate steps to acquire it. It is never based on rationality, but more so rather on emotion and not based on strength, but rather frailty. At times its not just explicit hate, but its expression can take on the appearance of something much more innocent and thereby more deceptive, like humor.

Their wretched minds are dark, and their actions sinful. They will attack those who even have the nerve to offer a better way of life. We see this not only in man, but these traits are even evident in Satan. Thus, if a man is puffed up to a large degree like I have described, the person is most likely following in the trail of darkness rather than being led by the light. The perversions that Satan originated, become the person’s own, represented in his spirit, thoughts and actions. He lives according to the self, not respecting anything, but demanding respect from everybody. This can get to such an extent that he will try to silence his mind and spirit to focus completely on the flesh.

From "Paradise Lost," by John Milton. "Satan Lands Atop Mt. Niphates, Where He Laments The Loss of Heaven," by Gustave Doré, c. 1866

The antithesis however, is that the upright, the secure, the content, and the joyful, will live in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of pushing any differing person away as the enemy does, the faithful will attract the lost to themselves, and more importantly, by the Lord who shines bright within those that are righteous in God’s sight.

The books of the prophets are amazing in that, not only do they give us insights of how we are to live today concerning our own lives, but also contain prophecy about the the Christ. Habakkuk, though a minor prophet by scholarly classification, is no different from his “major” counterparts, other than slightly harder to spell.

The Prophet Habakkuk

We see that the phrase, “but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness,” not only suggests tests how we are to live to be granted righteousness, but also that we will need to be faithful to something greater than the self, namely the Lord Jesus Christ, who was still to come in Habakkuk’s time. Also, because it is in a singular context, we see that it is pointing to a savior who by His faithfulness, will be made righteous and offer that same righteousness to all that would approach Him in humble faith. Not only was this verse fulfilled in Christ, it has been fulfilled within us at the present, that is in The Body of Christ, and will be fulfilled in the future when the enemy is brought low and deflated by the power, authority, and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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