Wisdom & Discernment

The New Heart God Promised

 

Praise God for His holy word, the bible. Thank God for His Holy Spirit who lives inside us. And as previously stated, I thank God for the multitude of wonderfully adept bible expositors and preachers that God has provided us. We’re left with no excuses to offer: “Lord, I didn’t understand.” Or, “How was I supposed to know what You wanted me to do?” Even on earth they say ignorance is no excuse. God has made these things clear to us and revealed Himself through His Son and the bible. So let’s continue studying God’s word while listening to those biblically sound teachers and preachers.

 

God revealed to me how there are three things that must take place before anyone is even capable of becoming a faithful, fruitful, and productive follower of Jesus. And to live for the Kingdom of God.

  1. We must know and understand God’s; will, plan, purposes and promises.
  2. We must love God, His will, plan, purposes and promises.
  3. And finally, we must actively engage God’s will, plan, purposes and promises.  

 

There is, however, a huge problem that effectively precludes all people from being able to do these three all important things. In our unsaved state—the condition into which people are born, we are sinful at the core, having our very nature corrupted. Mankind cannot understand things in the spiritual realm, and God is Spirit. The will of mankind has been rendered rotten by the affects of sin and the curse. In our natural inward persons, we’re not capable of doing these three things. I can unequivocally and didactically state such. That’s why we must first be born again, born of the Spirit, and given a new heart—the bible very clearly teaches this.

 

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

Here’s the same verse in the NIV, which might be a little easier to understand.

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV

 

We need God’s Holy Spirit, AKA Spirit of Christ living inside us before we can do those 3 things. And we cannot have the Spirit, unless we have placed our faith and trust in Christ Jesus and been saved. We also confess Him before others and are baptised, demonstrating our faith in and obedience to Him.

 

In the bible, the heart refers to human will—man’s desires.

Humankind’s will is faulty. We need a new will, a new heart. This is what God has promised to do for us! if we will simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 (See also John 3:3, 2 Cor. 3:3)

 

Only then, are we finally capable of learning, embracing and doing the will of our Creator and God, who loves us beyond comprehension.

 

We must be radically changed in our nature. We are freed from slavery to sin by denying our old sinful nature, which is self-centered, and, by receiving the power of God’s Spirit inside.

Our God has placed moral obligations upon us, and we’ll never be able to keep those obligations until we are converted. We become a new creature, and God, through regeneration places a new nature in us, and gives us;

  1. A new motivation
  2. A new desire
  3. A new understanding
  4. And a new power! He dwells in us.
  5. And a New Life in Christ!

 

We did not have to work for our salvation, nor for our new heart. It was impossible for us to earn or merit God’s amazing grace. But from here on out, there’s lots of work for us to do, the first of which is to learn how to think with our new heart. Our old way of thinking must be placed upon the altar and sacrificed to Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us, now, He shares Himself (His character and power) with us. We give ourselves to Him—deny self, take up our crosses and follow as He leads. This is absolutely essential to living the good, productive Christian life Jesus wants to help us gain. God wants us to be fruitful.

 

Jude 1:24 “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” 

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Categories: Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Faith, God's Kingdom, God's Will, new nature, Salvation, sin nature, Uncategorized, Wisdom & Discernment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Learning Spiritual Insights

croc

At a church I attended some time ago there was one guy who would say things about me, and to me, that sounded like veiled criticisms. It had the same affect on me as fingernails on slate—it was really irritating. His words came out as feeble attempts at joking jibes, and this was a constant thing. But underneath it all, I could detect a hurt feeling, as if I made him feel a little “less-than.” I didn’t realize this in the beginning, but thankfully I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and He is super wise. Cutting me down, while making it sound as if he was only kidding was a way for the poor fellow to express what was going on inside, without anyone calling him on his badmouthing.

Lots of people suffer insecurities, and often those feelings will rise to the surface in both word and actions, often distinguished through facial expressions and body language. These feelings, though usually unfounded, do stem from legitimate needs that are not being met: such as the need for self-worth—healthy self-esteem. Sometimes there are deep rooted emotional injuries from childhood that have never been addressed, hence, have never healed.

At first, his words hurt my feelings and stirred a bit of anger. My knee jerk response was to let fly right back at him with a wittier slam than his, and being a writer I’m quite able in that respect. In fact, I actually did that, and later felt really bad about it. So I repented, and then told the man I was sorry for saying what I did.

A couple days later, while in prayer, God’s Spirit of wisdom showed me that there were underlying hurts and heartaches in that man—some past trauma at the root of the problem. This is something God teaches us to do—be discerning. The Lord has even given us His Holy Spirit so that we’ll have the power to know and understand things that are going on in the spirit world, in our own spirit, and in that of others, like my criticizer. God knows all things, even our most secret motives, and often He shares needed information with us, if we will remain open to receive it. God then affords us the power to respond in the right way, with discernment, discretion and healing love.

God has taught me to pray about everything, and this was one of those things I definitely needed to talk to the Lord about. For one thing, I had to be certain I wasn’t saying or doing things that would perpetuate this man’s feelings of some form of inferiority.

“Lord, why does he feel that way in response to me? Have I said or done something wrong to him?”

Well, as usual, God did not answer in the way I wanted or expected Him to. Perhaps I was hoping for something like, Oh no, you’re fine, Sheldon. It’s that man’s problem and he should not be talking like that.

But instead, I was simply given direction as to what I should do. I sensed God speaking inside me. You may be wondering, ‘How do I know it was God talking?’ Because it’s not what I myself would have thought of, or done in response to the situation. And, it was in keeping with God’s very nature of love and compassion. And, it was in harmony with other things that, as my educator, God has instructed me to do in the past. I’ve already told you what my own human response was, which came from the sin nature. Yes, I’m still growing, but so are all believers.

The Lord said something to the effect of “Ask him to do something for you—something that you don’t know how to do yourself.”

Hmm, that makes sense, I responded. Yes Lord, I will. It’ll make him feel better-than, instead of less-than, and I’ll get a lesson in humility.

“Now you’re thinking,” is what I believe the Lord was saying at that point.

As it turns out, the guy is a whiz with computers, and I owned a laptop that had crashed. Fixing it would require a set of skills that are completely out of my purview. Now I can fix a car and sell it too—I can write some pretty fancy words and even pitch some woo. But when it comes to computers: software, malware, Tupperware; all that jazz, I have to leave it to those nerdy types with skinny necks and pocket protectors who look as if they may take over the world some day.   Sorry about that, I got distracted by my funny bone.

He did a great job fixing my laptop, for free, and he even gave me a beefed up hard drive. That guy was tickled rosy to show me how smart he was, and I made sure to stoke that sensation in him. Ever since that day, he has stopped criticizing me and sometimes he even asks me questions about the bible. I think he and I are becoming friends outside of church too. Now, if I can get him to open up about his past, maybe I’ll have the opportunity to counsel him, and get him to seek the Lord’s help in addressing whatever the root of his dilemma may be. God sure does know what He’s doing. All I have to do is pray, then listen…and then do.

Blessings.

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, LIstening to God, Uncategorized, Wisdom & Discernment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rosy Prose

Sailing

 

I’m sailing away,

Into this painting,

Unfurling the canvas,

Rolled out in my mind.

The waves crash silently,

My ship rolls in a gentle sway,

Like two lovers on a dance floor,

Two moving as one—united in heart.

Pulsating rhythms of this dream,

Rapture me into the rays of the sun,

As it, sizzling, kisses the sea’s horizon.

I have company here,

Attending my mellow whims:

The clouds are all puffy,

Azure turns red, and then blue overhead,

Feathery wings tip in salute,

The waves are waving at me,

The dolphins smile at me,

I like it here,

Just me, my friends, and the sea.

 

 

While the real beauty of art lies in the viewer’s, or hearer’s personal perceptions, sometimes the artist is aiming at something specific. Whether it be a painting, a poem, prose, melody,  or another form, we hope to inspire, or to solicit deeper thought, and sometimes it is simply meant to encourage and appeal to pleasantry. Here, I am aiming for a certain pleasant sensation that one may experience when paying heed to the awesomeness of God’s glorious creations.

I felt the same way as I stood on a high precipice gazing down into the Grand Canyon at the Colorado River below. It’s as if God sets off a spark in the soul which seems to say, “Can you see me now?”

Perhaps, you too have felt it before. Maybe you weren’t sure what caused you to feel that warm embrace—it seemed so spiritual, as you beheld beautiful wonders on the earth, in the sea, or in the skies above?

 

 

And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

 

 

 

Categories: Creation, Nature, Poem, Poetry, Romantic Love, Self Improvement, Uncategorized, Wisdom & Discernment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alcohol For Christians

alcohol

According to Google, among the most frequently asked bible questions have to do with what it says about drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and getting tattoos. Today I’d like to focus on the first one: Alcohol.

Let’s say I drank a couple fingers of 18 year old Macallan scotch. Have I sinned? Answers from pastors around the world are as plentiful and varied as the shoes in Nick Cannon’s closet. But we can’t settle for fallible people’s opinions. As believers we want to know what God has to say, and so we look to the bible under the Spirit’s guidance for answers. After all, God is the one we want to please.

 

If you wonder how God feels about you drinking, I strongly suggest you take a moment right now. Pause from reading this post, and pray—ask God for discernment and clarity on this issue once and for all. And then continue reading. My own prayers before, and while preparing this post, consumed much time, and I fervently sought the Holy Spirit’s counsel. The optimal means of gaining absolute certainty on this, as with any issue is to prayerfully excavate truths from the bible under the Spirit’s direction. I’ve provided several passages from which I hope to offer perspective. But you may want to buckle up; it’s going to be a bumpy ride with a few switchbacks along the way.

 

Is alcohol evil and sinful? No. But what we do with alcohol can be sinful. So, is drinking alcohol sinful? Yes and No. Clear as mud, right? Stay with us.

 

It’s a no-brainer that ALCOHOLISM IS SIN. Just about anything done in excess is sin, e.g. gluttony. A myriad of passages condemn being a drunken sot, or a glutton.

“…nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1st Cor. 6:10

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 1 Peter 4:3

 These are but two out of a plethora of passages that unequivocally identify drunkenness as sin.  So if we habitually get drunk…then yes, it’s sin.

 

I’ve included bible quotations that cover both the pros and cons of this most ancient of beverages. As with all spiritual issues, we must also look to passages that do not mention alcohol specifically, and yet, they set a spiritual precedent.

 

The following verse mentions wine, and we must apply it correctly, viewing it through the lens of the bible in its entirety. Scripture interprets scripture.

He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts. Psalm 104:14-15 (emphasis mine)

God created the earth primarily as a habitation for mankind. He told us to subdue it, to manage and utilize it. God wants us to enjoy what He has blessed us with—it’s all for our benefit and enjoyment.  Other verses, however, give strong warnings that expose the dangers of drinking too much wine. Anything, when combined with human weakness can become sinful.

In this last passage, the Holy Spirit indicates that alcohol, specifically wine, gladdens our hearts. It has the ability to make us glad or happy. But we can’t simply drive in a peg right there, or wave that verse around as validation for drinking any time we get the urge. There are other considerations—it doesn’t always make us glad, in fact, sometimes it can make us sad. The devil is in the details. Here’s another positive verse.

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Eccl. 9:7

Honestly, I don’t yet feel qualified to exegete that verse—I never fake it when it comes to passages I’m not real solid on. I included it only because I was led to do so.

 

Jesus & Wine

We’re all familiar with Jesus’ miracle of changing water into wine at a wedding celebration in Cana of Galilee. (See John 2:1-11) Throughout the bible we see wine used in joyous celebrations. Can you imagine how good the wine Jesus made would taste?

Many well-meaning, but woefully misguided people of God have assayed to perform a little miracle of their own. They attempt transforming the wine of this passage to mean unfermented juice. Come on now, let’s stop trying to change what the bible says. It says wine—it means wine. Jesus drank wine, but this in no way makes it right for everyone to do so in every circumstance.

 

I remember my strict grandmother who attended church every time the doors were open. She was a very devout Christian woman, for which I am deeply thankful. But I was surprised when I learned she took a glass of Mogan David wine before bedtime to help her sleep.

Medicinal Value

In Paul’s first letter to his protégé, Timothy, he advises him to “Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” 1 Tim. 5:23

Here, we see that alcohol has medicinal uses that God approves of. It’s also good for use as an antiseptic, killing most every germ and bacteria known to man. But alcohol also kills skin cells in your; mouth, throat, stomach and digestive tract, and we know that habitual use damages internal organs.  As the redeemed, we are now the temple of God, so we want to respect our bodies and take good care of them. We’ve already established that God has given us many things from the good earth to utilize, but we must do so wisely. Remember, alcohol can be a slippery slope, and that’s why we get so many differing answers. There are several spiritual precepts we should consider before we opt for a bottle of Bordeaux, or whatever kind of scamper juice you happen to choose.

 

In Christ we have freedom—liberty. Under grace we are freed from the written code, and now obey God out of love for Him. The Spirit of Christ resides within believers, affording them the power of God—to give them power over sin, so they have the capacity to live godly, pleasing Him while conforming to Christ.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 1st Corinthians 10:23-24

 

Enter the Law of Love!

During my spiritual infancy I heard a great sermon on the Christian’s freedoms by Chuck Swindoll, and then another by Charles Stanley. Subsequently, I read books by both men about it. “Liberty on a Tightrope.” The title itself is revealing—sometimes it’s a real balancing act to know when it’s okay to exercise our freedoms. It requires wisdom and discernment that can be procured only through a close relationship with Jesus. Yet our sin detection is based upon love, and I’ve learned that love has many faces.

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. Romans 14:21

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall. 1st Corinthians 8:13

I’m simply going to say, “That’s love,” and allow those two verses to speak for themselves. They are commands that we are to take literally and very seriously.

Here’s a PDF for an excellent article on this subject of our freedoms, and those who would deny us our freedoms. It’s by an astute Doctor of Theology: “Tyranny of the Weaker Brother.”

 

Caution: speed bump ahead! Do you have your seatbelt buckled?

Sinning Against Conscience

When our consciences question whether or not what we’re doing is sin, we should take heed. Whatever you believe to be sinful, for you, it actualy becomes sin, no matter what it is. If I think it’s a sin but I do it anyway, it is sin. Even if some misguided person believes using musical instruments is sinful, for them it’s a sin to use musical instruments. To do so would go against their God-given and God-governed conscience. They believe it is wrong and yet choose to do it anyway. That’s called willful sin against the conscience. Personally, I know God approves of musical instruments, so for me, I can use them with a clear conscience. For me it is not sin, and the same goes for alcohol. But out of love, I will not do so in the presence of a weaker brother or sister in Christ who thinks otherwise, or else I could cause them to violate their conscience, and sin.

 

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 1 Peter 2:16


God knows our hearts and our consciences. When we’re saved, the Holy Spirit directs our consciences, but we must remain attuned to Christ for this to be so. We can be deceived by false doctrines. We can be lured into participating in something that could tarnish our testimony for Christ. Or, we can have our freedoms chained up by wolves among the flock. And… Heaven forbid that by my drinking, I should embolden a brother or sister in Christ to drink, who has been enslaved to the old loony-juice in the past.

 

Consider this. Though slight, just one ounce of alcohol impairs our judgment, enervating our decision making prowess. We are commanded to be self-controlled. How can we be certain we’ll know when to stop drinking? If you’re going to indulge, you may want to determine the amount before you drink. If you’re at home, pour your set amount, and then put the bottle away.

 

Grandma used to say, “All things in moderation.” We shouldn’t be given over to anything, or to anyone, except to God. It’s easy to deceive ourselves into thinking we’re controlling our drinking when it could be the other way around. Again, we are to exercise self-control. It’s difficult enough to control our fleshly urges without having our commitment weakened by alcohol. We’re talikng about a fruit of the Spirit here, meaning, that God’s Spirit helps us maintain control so we can follow Him. “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) The Spirit provides for us the genuine article, not the false relief alcohol provides.

 

I cannot tell you whether or not using alcohol is okay for you, unless you are an alcoholic, and then it IS sin. This is something that’s between you and the Lord. He will give you the answer that’s right for you, as an individual. You will need wisdom and spiritual discernment. And you must consider all the variables, of which, I’d like to add one more.

 

Idolatry

When I turn to other things instead of to God when He has all we need (peace, joy, comfort, etc.) it is a form of idolatry.  If I turn to alcohol to help alleviate my hurt feelings or depression, anxiety, or because I’m angry, instead of seeking God’s provision for relief from these, then I’m turning to an idol. Anything we put in the place of God is idolatry. He provides peace and joy, security and wisdom and guidance and anything else we could ever possibly need. Every so often, that may include a tall glass of wine. Always seek God’s counsel on all decisions in life, and at all times. The following verse illustrates the truth of these things.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…”(Ephesians 5:18).

Noteworthy in this verse is the fact that our beloved comforter, Holy Spirit, provides for us the supernatural gifts of joy, contentment and inner peace. It is, however, often that believers have not yet learned how to call upon these helps, and will instead reach for an artificial means of feeling better, like drinking alcohol.

The following is straight from the bible’s book of wisdom.

Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Proverbs 31:6

 

When experiencing deep grief, the loss of a loved one, you’re dying, or when enduring tremendous pain, God has provided a little additional relief in alcohol. This verse appears to indicate we can use (but not abuse) alcohol for these purposes.

 

In conclusion

We’ve disclosed how wisdom, discernment and self-control, coupled with personally seeking God’s counsel make all the difference in discovering what’s right for each individual. Sometimes drinking alcohol is sinful, and other times it’s not. Alcohol is sin for some, but not for certain others who may lose their self-control by drinking. There are benefits of drinking and there are many hazrds of the same. So I pray I’ve left you with some pertinent truths to ponder. As you take this issue to the Lord, ask Him for enlightenment concerning each of the variables we talked about.

 

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. Proverbs 20:1

 

God Bless You!

 

Categories: Addiction, Alcohol, Bible, Christian Living, Uncategorized, Wisdom & Discernment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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