Friday, April 26, 2013

Life Is In The Seed

There is a funny thing about truth. No matter how much a person tries to run from it, it always seems to follow us home. Truth, like the word of God, is the seed. Now, Jesus said there were a variety of hearts that were likened to different kinds of soil. Some hearts, like ground that has been tilled and prepared, allows the seed that is planted to immediately take root and begin to grow. Others...well, they seem a lot like this picture. The person's heart may have a lot of barriers that act as a wall of self preservation. It doesn't just keep others at a distance, it keeps the love of God, His presence and His truth locked up in captivity so that the person cannot really grow or change.

There is a dying process that the seed of truth produces, and it's a necessary step that cannot be overlooked. How often we want to see immediate change either in ourselves or our loved ones, but the seed, Jesus said in John 12:24, cannot bear fruit UNTIL it goes into the ground and dies. Then, and only then, can it actually produce life and bear fruit.

Whether it is ourselves or those we have been praying for, the seed must die. It's a process the individual must go through as they wrestle with that grain of truth, themselves, and God. The seed must surrender to death, and so must we surrender to death of ourselves. We know by faith that our flesh was crucified with Christ, but often our flesh still wants to try to stay alive and resist the growth that the seed is designed to produce. God is very patient with the process because He knows it is the process that will produce lasting change and permanent growth, but, when He wants a person to get on track He does have His ways of turning up the heat and making things quite uncomfortable, so that submitting to Him seems more desirable than resisting Him and doing our own thing! The moment you grab hold of a promise from God, all hell will fight to prove that that promise will not bring forth life. It's ok...that's part of the process but no matter how bad the news it doesn't mean the circumstances are truth. They may be the facts at the moment, but you can just let the enemy know that those facts are not the truth, and your circumstances are going to comply with the word of God. Of course the enemy tries to steal the seed, but here is the great news! Inherent in the DNA of the seed is the quality of tenacity. Don't ask me how, but that seed will always look for a crack so that it can grow and break forth out of the ground. Have you ever seen a shoot of new green life that springs up between cracks in the sidewalk, in between rock and the most incredible places? It makes one wonder how anything could find a way to grow. Yet, the life of that plant seemingly will not be denied. It looks for a place to break through and produce what is in the DNA of the seed!

We rented an apartment a few years back and there must have been a crack in the foundation, because there was this stubborn piece of grass that would grow up from under the carpet and right there in the corner of my living room was green living grass. I honestly think God gave it to us as an object lesson! Tonight He reminded me of that blade of grass. I could never get to the root, so I always had to clip it off with scissors, and it would always grow back. The root always produces the fruit. Listen, whether it's a stubborn weed you need to get rid of or a seed that you want to bear good fruit, the process is the same. You must deal with the roots. Spiritually, it is the same process. Either way, the good seed is more powerful than the weeds. Just keep planting the word of God because eventually it will find a way to break new ground!

Friends, let me give you a reassuring word today. Your spouse, your loved ones, or whoever is on your prayer list may be wrestling somewhere with themselves and God, but that seed is looking for a place to grow. THERE IS ALWAYS A CRACK THE ENEMY DIDN'T COUNT ON. You might not know where it is, but God does, and He will direct that seed to fall into the right crack; the one that has just enough light in it to make that seed struggle to live and keep reaching for daylight. It may take a while, but the word of God does not return void. It will prosper in the thing for which it was sent! (Isaiah 55:11) The interesting thing about a new plant is that it has to fight to live, and in the process as it gets stronger, it will displace some hard clumps of dirt, debris or even rocks. So keep declaring the word of God and sending out light and truth to the person, even if you can't speak it to them directly. Once it is released, it is in God's timing and according to His intimate knowledge of the individual. Ask Him to direct the seeds of truth into the right cracks in their heart. Ask Him to shine His light in that crack that pulls the seed up into the light. Speak God's word that is like a homing device looking for it's target. Truth always has a way of following a person home.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stop Listening To Sir Hiss A Lot!

A picture is worth a lot, don't you think? Do you notice how the King seems mesmerized by the snake's voice? The voice we listen to the most is the one that has the power to influence us. Although it's a funny way to make a point, the issue is not so comical. Allow me to address some more serious issues of the heart that prevent a person from drawing close to God.

Have you ever prayed, "Lord, deliver me from this anger?" How many times we have said things like, "Deliver me from my fears! Deliver me from this sin!" Or you cry out wondering why surrender seems to cause such difficulty and double-mindedness?" Our spirits are indeed willing but oh how often the flesh withstands us! Fear is the root of all anger, but often it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what the lie is that has us all twisted up inside. Then anger and impatience are often the result. Anger and impatience go hand in hand. Anger is often the result of a heart that is not submitted to the Lord. I am not talking about the sort of anger that comes from seeing someone abused, neglected or injured. I am not talking about anger that comes from someone doing something painfully unjust to injure or attack a person without provocation. I am referring to habitual anger that comes as a result of allowing it to become a lifestyle of uncontrolled responses. I am referring to the slow simmer that always seems to be inherent in a person's general attitude and character. This anger can often be so deeply rooted in a person that the individual can simply say, "I cannot change, for this is the way I've always been."

You can change. I know your head may be shaking "No," and you may be thinking it is impossible; I've tried before and never had success for very long. And even others would say, "I have learned how to have a measure of self control but I find that inwardly I am still irritable, angry and impatient," and so the lack of real peace drives them to self medicate or try to find an emotional upgrade through other equally addictive things such as shopping or unnecessary spending, drivenness towards success or approval, emotional eating, and other things. Anger doesn't always manifest in outbursts of rage; sometimes it is the quiet, deliberate plotting of vengeance that waits to pounce upon the unsuspecting.

The reality is, the individual is living in a form of rebellion somewhere in their lifestyle or in an attitude towards God. Their heart is resistant towards the change that God wants to produce in the individual, and that can only come from being truly submitted to Him. The place of that rebellion can often be pinpointed in the thing that you don't want to give up. Perhaps it is a certain vice, or an attitude of judgment, unforgivness or bitterness towards someone. Perhaps it is a behavior such as lying or dishonesty. It could be a number of things, but you can be sure the enemy will be there to validate all the reasons why you feel justified in retaining that position of compromise. He will use the scriptures to condemn you just as much as he will use the scriptures to convince you that grace covers everything and there is room to allow for sin and compromise. But at some point, you know what it is that God is trying to weed out of your life. It is at that point when you know what it is that God is pressing you to give up and refusal becomes sin. That is where the enemy gains a foothold, for the principle of James 4:7 holds true. IF a person is truly submitted to God, then they can resist the enemy and he MUST flee. But the enemy knows when a person is not truly submitted to God and is still enjoying the pleasures of sin. No amount of trying to resist the enemy is effective when the heart is still in rebellion. That place of resistance to God has given the enemy a legal right to stay and form a place of bondage in the person's life. They actually become a slave of it, which is why they cannot seem to renew their mind or break the bad habit they have accumulated.

God works in a myriad of ways to bring people to a place of genuine surrender so that we can yield our hearts to His, but He won't take it by force. He won't take our heart if it is offered begrudgingly or in resentment. He only receives our heart when it is truly our choice and of our own free will to trust Him and allow ourselves to come to a place of real surrender. But oh, how painfully frustrating it can be to go through the process of getting us to that place of real surrender!

It's the enemy's job to lie, deceive, mock God, confuse, accuse, and instill fear, anger and resentment towards God, for the heart that feels these things cannot reach a place of genuine peace or surrender. Genuine surrender is what the enemy fears most. When we truly understand the lies are there to keep us from trusting God, it is then we have to make our own decision. Is the sin really worth it? Does the sin produce anything that does not ultimately lead to regret, self condemnation, frustration and separation from ourselves and God, or separation between us and others? The answer to that should be enough to convince oneself of the right answer. The enemy is still the serpent from the garden that whispers in our ear, always about our head, whispering accusation, leading into temptation and suggesting all manner of justification to do whatever we please. My kids remembered the snake from the old Disney movie, I think it was Robin Hood, and the snake's name was Sir Hiss. We laugh and say that's all he does, so we call him Sir Hiss A Lot. Now when one of us is acting badly or saying something that isn't truthful, we help hold each other accountable and issuing a gentle reminder by saying, "Have you been listening to Sir Hiss A Lot again?" It makes us laugh, but it's a great way to get us back on track.

So I'm giving you each a little nudge today to stop listening to that old snake, Sir Hiss A Lot. He's nothing but trouble, and if we listen to his suggestions we will always end up separated from God and others. It's when we realize how deeply our Father loves us, and the ultimate sacrifice Jesus paid for our sins, that we again bring ourselves to the foot of the cross, look up and wonder how on earth we are again crucifying our Lord and accusing Him of being unfair, unloving or uninvolved in our lives. It's the revelation that He is nothing BUT love, that it makes us feel sheepish and embarrassed for listening to the snake and fighting against God that we can finally, with all sincerity, offer up our heart in our hands as an act of mutual love, trust and surrender to the One who gave it all up for us. THIS is where we are truly In Christ to such a degree that we are actually hidden in Him. The enemy can no longer see us, but he sees only Christ, and the Christ that defeated him before defeats him again and again and again as we remain hidden in the Lord. We are literally cloaked in invisibility but full of all power and authority. This is the enemy's nightmare, because Satan must obey the word of the Lord from His servants. This is how we cut the head of the serpent off and claim our victory; through submission to the Lord. You see, a submitted heart is at peace with themselves, God and others, even if the world is not at peace with them. A submitted heart is not angry or fearful and doesn't take out their frustrations on others. A submitted heart yields to the Holy Spirit and learns how to demonstrate gentleness, kindness and love.

I pray that today is the day of revelation, truth and freedom from all the lies of the enemy. God's only desire in asking for your complete submission and for you to surrender yourself to Him is so that He can give you the exchange of His power, and to be so lost in Him that you truly overcome all that has beset you. His desire is to bring you to a place of greater intimacy, to know His heart, His secrets and His strategies. What a great exchange. Our anger, fear, sin and twisted insecurities for His love, power and abundant life. May this be YOUR day for inner transformation and lasting change!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Solid Faith

Here's the thing about faith. If it's not anchored in something solid, proven and unshakable, at some point when it's tested it's going to fail. God wants to establish and settle our faith, but in order to do that He must first shake everything that can be shaken inside of us where truth and error don't agree. Hebrews 12:26,27 says "Yet once more I shake not only the earth but also heaven." Now this, 'Yet once more,' indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain."

When God wants to establish His truth in a person, He takes them through trials, temptations and allows them to experience various forms of trouble to the soul. When God shakes us it can feel like our faith is coming apart at the seams. There can be so many faulty ideas and perceptions, misunderstanding of His word and lies of the enemy that weaken a person's faith. When a person's confidence is in themselves (their talents, gifts, education, or other abilities), they can find themselves struggling with something that allows them to see their own weaknesses and inability to save or deliver themselves. They can find themselves failing in some aspect of their life where they once felt secure. This is a form of self made righteousness that God will strip off. There are many things that people put their confidence in that are not anchored in God. Financial security, family, job, retirement, even placing one's trust in government assistance and other things can all fail. Preachers, leaders, friends and respected colleagues can fail. Marriages can fail. These are things that are "made" that God will shake, because in the process people learn that none of those things have the power to secure our faith. He has to shake out all our false securities that are not cohesive with genuine faith, truth and trust.

Part of this shaking process can make a person feel that they are losing faith, going downward into hopelessness, depression, discouragement and despair. God will level the building if He needs to because this is how He pours a new foundation. The foundation of each believer must be upon the revelation of Jesus Christ, His grace and the truth of His word. If' it's laid upon anything else it will be faulty and prone to crumbling under pressure. It is at this place of being torn down that the person  finds themselves at a crossroads. It is a dangerous place to be, because God allows Satan to be a part of sifting out the chaff and burning up our humanity through fiery trials. Satan hopes that the individual will fail the tests and continue on the path of despair, eventually casting away their confidence in the Lord altogether; for without faith it is impossible to please God. Don't get me wrong, the spirit of discouragement is very real and I don't mean to minimize the troubling it brings to one's soul. Sometimes only God can pull us up from a pit. But, at the same time, a person always has the choice of leaning into God or pulling further away from Him. The reality is, the person at this crossroads is going to go either one of two directions. It is dangerous for anyone to stay at this place too long. (Read Heb. 6). They will either allow hopelessness, feelings of rejection, abandonment and discouragement lead them quietly and slowly into apostasy and spiritual death, or they will find themselves earnestly searching for truth to settle certain questions in their heart and mind once and for all. It is the resolution of these questions that will establish and settle a person's faith in Jesus Christ. Thank goodness the Lord is alive and makes intercession for us. We may be brought low, but He is rooting for us and praying that our faith will not fail! Eventually a person must come to a point of decision and make up their mind what they believe. It is so important that we do not rely on assumptions or emotions or even what someone else might say is truth; we MUST search the scriptures for ourselves! No one can take the truth away from the one who has spent the time digging it out themselves. Those are nuggets of pure gold, and that is what God is going for. The gold is always tested.When the questions get settled with God's revealed truth, this is an anchor for our hope, which also leads to spiritual transformation and a re-birth of confidence and trust in who He is as a person. Faith is not real faith if it is not anchored in what is proven and reliable.

How Does Faith Grow?

A person cannot grow in faith or personal development unless they are willing to seek truth for themselves. It doesn't come by church attendance, listening to great preaching or listening to what someone else tells you is scriptural truth. There are many people that do these things yet have no real personal growth or development to their character, integrity, an increase in their level of faith and commitment to the Lord. Growth always requires something from the individual. Without the commitment to progress in a deeper relationship with Christ, a person remains spiritually immature and unchanged. They are not ready for the meat of the word until they have partaken of the milk, or the elementary things of God's word. Lack of spiritual discipline makes one dull of hearing and resistant to change. The church today is in dire need of self discipline. Not religiousness, but a dedication towards personal growth. The author of the Book of Hebrews says, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (Heb. 5: 12-14).

Self discipline is key to personal growth and development. Many people understand this concept and will apply self discipline to other areas of their life, such as continuing education, networking in order to create wider circles of influence or focusing on good work ethics in an effort to get ahead; yet at the same time they can fail to realize the importance of applying self discipline to developing spiritual and emotional growth.  Failure to apply self discipline in the area of personal spiritual growth results in a lack of good fruit (character and integrity included) that can carry the potential of sabotaging years of concentrated effort towards self improvement. Don't let a lack of character assassinate your future. Faith must be exercised before it can grow, and God is committed to us overcoming our areas of weakness so that we change from glory to glory. We must follow the instructions found in the word and apply it to our daily lives, not just feel comfortable with the fact that we might know what the word says. This is part of growing spiritually and demonstrating that our faith and confession of Christ as Lord and Savior are genuine. Exercising one's faith means that life experience proves what is real; the reality of the truth in God's word is tested, proven and found to be trustworthy. If one resists change then they remain spiritually weak and immature and are not able to digest the meat of the word. Faith and growth are increased when scriptural principles are applied to one's life and they produce lasting change in the person's heart and life. If the belief system is not tested, or "shaken" then the person remains unaware of the cracks in their foundation and unable to achieve greater personal growth until the foundation has been fixed. This is how God takes us through the process of establishing a solid foundation in order to produce faith in an unshakable kingdom.

Signs of Spiritual Growth

Spiritual growth produces good fruit in a person's heart, life, and character. They increase in love, joy, peace, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. They strive to put the desires of their flesh to death and pursue godliness. They aren't perfect (no one is), but they continue to fight the good fight of faith, putting their trust in the Lord, and allowing Holy Spirit to have His rightful place of authority in their lives. They learn to yield to His desires, rather than their own. They endeavor to apply spiritual discipline and self control to certain things, knowing that even though many things may be permissible, not everything is profitable towards developing personal growth, maturity and establishing a greater level of faith. Amen. Let us forget those things that are now behind us and keep pressing on to maturity.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Inner Transformation

After praying this prayer, the Lord woke me up to help clarify a few old issues I have been struggling with, so I thought I would share those insights. 

Every wrong behavior in a person is the result of them believing a lie about who they really are. We have been crucified with Christ; which means our old nature is dead. If there is some habit or behavior that we can not seem to get rid of, something that does not reflect our true identity and new nature in Christ, then there is a lie rooted in our belief system that is at war with the spiritual reality of who we are in Christ. It is literally holding our redeemed nature in captivity until the lie is displaced with truth. If you are trying to change a habit or something about yourself that you do not like, ask Him to uncover the lie and show you what is causing the war in your thoughts! When the lie is revealed and truth replaces it, you will have peace, and peace allows one's nature to change. God does not speak to our sin nature because the old 'us' was nailed to the cross along with Christ. He simply works in us to displace the lies that we have taken in about ourselves so that the truth will extinguish the lies and restore the redeemed nature of Christ in us. Isn't that good news?

A prayer for today:


Today I pray for a fresh perspective that will transform me from the inside out. Please give me eyes to see with clarity in the Spirit. Help me to see everything from Your perspective rather than what I see or perceive from the natural realm. Help me to see the opportunities rather than the obstacles. Help me to see Your purpose and cooperate with your Holy Spirit with an attitude of joy in the process of inner transformation. I give You permission to take my old mindset and bad habits and replace them with new thoughts, beliefs and habits that represent my new nature as I am in Christ. Show me how to be gentle. Show me how to walk in faith that pleases You.Help me to focus on the righteousness of Christ and the joy of fellowship with Holy Spirit rather than focusing on negativity or circumstances.  Help me to remember that Your grace and mercy are always greater than my shortcomings, sin and failures. Help me not to condemn myself but to see myself as You see me. Holy Spirit, I ask You to reveal my identity, the way heaven sees me, and my purpose as it connects to my truest identity. Help me to remember that my sins are forgiven and to extend that grace and forgiveness to others. Help me to focus on your kindness and be overwhelmed by Your great love for me. Give me eyes to see the many ways You communicate and a heart to understand what You want to reveal to me each day. Help me to see the good that surrounds me, the blessings You have given me, Your favor that operates in my life and express gratitude to You each and every day. Help me to speak blessing over every circumstance.  In Jesus name, amen.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lessons From the Book of Galatians

The Apostle Paul had some interesting things to say in the Book of Galatians. He started out by speaking a blessing of grace and peace to those he addressed. Did you know that when God wants to tell us something, His words are always full of love, and love brings assurance of our acceptance in Christ. It is this revelation of our unconditional acceptance in the Lord and His good will towards us that leads to increased faith and confidence towards God. Grace and peace are always multiplied when we are in Christ. That’s the first thing we always ought to keep in perspective when we hear a message. Are grace and peace being multiplied unto me as I hear this? If not, test the spirits.

Paul went on to introduce himself as an apostle declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus, He reminded those who would read his letter, not only gave his very life for mankind but that he was sent to deliver us from the temptation of this evil age. In other words, Paul was referring to the redemptive work of Christ to sanctify believers and deliver them out of the temptations of the world. Paul marveled in shock that those he knew had somehow defected from the truth of the gospel that saved them, and they had unwittingly fallen for a different message. Somehow, something had gotten twisted in those they had allowed to teach them, and the message perverted. Paul could hardly believe that they had gotten tricked into believing a false gospel.

The most difficult lie to discern is the one that is introduced along with a majority of truth. It is not always easy to pick up on the deception when it sound plausible. Yet scripture must be balanced by the rest of doctrine and interpreted through the heart of God in order to understand it’s true intent. What I mean by that is, if a person doesn’t truly understand God’s heart, they will never correctly interpret His scripture and a form of legalism or error will be the result. Legalism is the use of guilt, manipulation and control. In the environment of the church, it forces the will of man upon others, often misusing and utilizing the scriptures in order to entice and manipulate people to do the will of a stronger individual . It uses fear and intimidation to fulfill it's desire to control others. It is operating by the spirit of Satan and not the Holy Spirit. Witchcraft and legalism will always misrepresent God's heart and character and the result is the effect of turning others against God, running away from Him in rebellion.

This was apparently the problem with the false teachers that introduced the Galatian church to a “different gospel.” There was no “human flavoring” of the gospel that Paul preached. He was not regurgitating what had been taught by the doctrines of men; Paul received the revelation of Jesus Christ straight from the source. If the gospel that Paul preached had been made up by men, he would have had to confer with others in order to receive their teachings or validate it. But, God’s will to choose Paul to advance the gospel was such an important choice that He left nothing to chance. Holy Spirit gave Paul the download of the gospel so that he would have it correct right from the start. This is an important truth to understand. Others can deliver the gospel message, but only the Holy Spirit can truly impart the revelation of Jesus Christ, His cross and resurrection, and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit that changes a person.It is not man's attempt to reinterpret scripture or add to it that sanctifies us. We are not sanctified by our own attempts to appear righteous; it comes only through the blood of Christ as He imputes His righteousness to us. God does not speak to our sin nature and focus on our shortcomings; He speaks to us as we are in Christ and lifts our focus off of ourselves and shifts it back to gazing upon Jesus, for He knows that what we focus on we become. It is the message of unconditional love, acceptance and the work of grace that changes us from the old man to the new. By grace we are saved, and by grace we are sanctified. You see, the gospel isn't about you. It's for you, but the gospel is about Jesus. It's about what He has done through His blood that was shed for us and the power of His cross and resurrection.

Red flags and warning bells went off in Paul’s head when he realized that false brethren had introduced a gospel that sounded believable, yet had subtle deceptions interwoven into their teachings in an effort to steal the liberties of the Galatian church. Perhaps one of the most powerful and impacting scriptures in the 2nd chapter of Galatians is found in verses 19-21. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

Let’s just pause right there for a moment. Do you realize that Jesus didn’t just die for you, but He died on that cross as you? Whether you realize it or not, you died to sin a long time ago. Jesus took you to the cross with Him (as He did for all of mankind) and died in your place so that you would not have to pay the penalty for your sins. He died as you. So let me ask you a question. If you died with Christ, then what are you doing with that truth? What have you done with Jesus? Because the day Jesus went to the cross you died to sin, spiritually speaking that is. If you can believe that truth and receive it by faith, then all that remains for you now is to walk in resurrection power. All that remains in you now is for your mind, heart, soul and lifestyle to catch up with that truth.

Paul challenged the Galatian church in chapter 3, asking them who bewitched them (who cast a spell over their minds) that they would stray from the truth and start believing a lie. He reminded them that what they began by faith in the Spirit they could not expect to finish by mistakenly trying to perfect their flesh through their own efforts. Paul challenged them, as any real apostle would do, to consider where they got off track and started believing a different gospel. They had been tricked or perhaps brainwashed into believing that they could somehow achieve a form of righteousness by the commandments of men rather than by the grace of God. They were confused by faulty doctrine and didn’t recognize it. He reminded them that a curse comes upon those that try to achieve righteousness by their own standards and that no one can effectively fulfill the law, and no one is justified by their own forms of righteousness. The just shall live by faith.

Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Do you realize that God does not focus on our sin nature? It's because it has already been crucified with Christ. When God speaks, He reveals the lies of the enemy that hinder us from becoming more Christlike. He is kind even when correcting our perspective. He does not condemn nor reject those in whom His Spirit inhabits. God's love and grace are abundant, and those that grow in their relationship with Him will continue in a life of sanctification - but it is as the Holy Spirit deals with each individual, in His time. The real gospel is in some people's estimation, radical grace, but that is what makes it the good news. God is restoring this truth back to His church, and purifying His bride. He is calling us back to the purity of the gospel.

Some people are alarmed at this new so called "grace movement." People who want to take it to an extreme and perhaps read things into those that are speaking grace and get offended by it, thinking they are actually giving others permission to use grace as a license to sin. I really believe this is a fear response, because fear says, “Let’s rope these people in before they get too far out of control.” Some go so far as to say those that preach such a thing are bordering on teaching heresy.

Scripture reminds us in 2 Cor. 10:12 not to compare ourselves with those that commend themselves, nor measure themselves by comparing themselves among one another because it is not wise. Wisdom refrains from unnecessary judgments, criticisms and comparisons. Fear causes people to jump to conclusions and make judgments that none of us should probably make. Good grief. Everyone is at a different place in their walk with God, in their understanding of the scriptures, and in the depth of relationship with Holy Spirit. If we are going to err, let's do it on the side of grace and not judgment. People are so quick to jump in and want to be the voice of the Holy Spirit to others to either use fear as a motivator towards obedience or caution them not to get too caught up in grace that they fall in a ditch. Can we not trust Holy Spirit to do HIS job? It is HIS job to convict people of sin and HIS job to sanctify...OUR job is to love people where they're at and stop jumping to conclusions based on what we assume about others. We need to stop being overly sin conscious and be Jesus focused. If we make salvation and sanctification about our own efforts then we rob the gospel message of grace. People tend to adopt one of two mindsets when it comes to their scriptural foundation. It is either based on a fear of rejection which puts the emphasis on our own efforts, or it is based on the joy of acceptance by which we can enjoy peace, rest and allow God's grace to transform our thoughts and actions.

So, how does one determine if their belief system needs an overhaul?  A perverse spirit will twist truth, cause confusion and result in double-mindedness and unbelief. It will cause anxiety, fear, frustration, disappointment, anger, and rebellion towards God. It will accuse God to the believer and cause serious trust issues between the individual and God. Pride and anger withstand God so that God withholds Himself from the believer. It is a shallow relationship at best. Real faith and personal growth are stunted, leaving the person disillusioned, dispassionate and wondering why their faith doesn’t seem to produce more results. Genuine faith in God comes as a result of embracing the truth of the gospel, recognizing that daily we need a Savior, Healer, Restorer, Deliverer and Teacher, and experiencing His faithfulness to meet us right where we are. This is how a person comes to understand the power of God’s unconditional love and acceptance. He multiplies grace and peace in the believer’s life and confidence towards God increases as revelation increases. Without revelation, a person is lost in their own thoughts, frustrations, personal limitations and cannot seem to make their faith work for them. It seems like a never ending road of trying to seek and serve God without much fulfillment or satisfaction from their Christian life. In essence, it keeps a person a slave to human effort, is centered around self rather than being centered around what Jesus has done for us, and results in estrangement from Christ. Every wrong thought produces anxiety, frustration, fear and other negative emotions. It produces unbelief and distrust towards God. Every thought precedes an action that will either draw us closer to God or lure us away from Him, His truth, and fellowship with Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, every right thought will produce a natural inclination towards gratitude for what Christ has done, love for the Father, an increase in faith and confidence towards God. This is why it is so important to take every thought in captivity that would rise up to challenge truth and subject it to the authority of Jesus Christ. I will end this with the words of Apostle Paul in which he said, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1).