October 2010

Sports fanaticism & idolatry

It’s been a tough past five days for Minnesota sports fans. The Gopher football team lost to Penn State on Saturday, the Vikings lost to Green Bay on Sunday, the Wild lost to the Capitals on Monday and the Timberwolves lost to Sacramento on Wednesday. Losses are bad enough, but every single one of them was a winnable game. That is frustrating! When I went to bed Wednesday night I was repenting. I had just spent two fruitless hours watching another defeat and wasting valuable time and energy on something I knew ultimately could never satisfy me.

When we read in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, about the worship of idols our eyes gloss over and we relegate such behavior to that of primitive cultures. After all we are far too advanced and sophisticated to fall prey to such foolishness. Right? – Wrong! Idol worship in our modern culture is more rampant than we realize and in all honesty rivals the idol worship of even Hinduism which boast millions of gods.

Overcoming a spirit of rejection

“He has made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6 AKJV)

Why is it that we so readily give credence to the voice of rejection whispering in our ear? You know that voice. It says “I don’t belong here. No one listens to or cares about me. I have nothing to offer.” It’s always in the first person “I”, because that is the way the devil deceives us into thinking its coming from us rather than from him, the father of lies. (John 8:44)

Seeds of rejection sown into our lives through experiences of being disregarded, abandoned or betrayed are fueled by the devil’s lies and lead to self-rejection. We then become our own worst enemy. Henri Nouwen writes “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that declares we are loved.”

The heart of the message of the Gospel is the very opposite of rejection. It is the promise of acceptance by our heavenly Father in the unconditional love of His son Jesus Christ.

Believe is an action verb

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
Did you know that in twenty of the world’s most primitive languages the word for believe is the same as the word for do? That is something Wycliffe Bible translators have discovered in years of working to translate the Bible into the native language of remote people groups. In other words, for those cultures, to believe something literally means to do something. Faith and action are inseparable. Truth be told, that is the way God intends it.
Genuine faith is expressed through action. This is a discovery that one readily makes when studying Hebrews 11 the great faith chapter of the Bible. A careful reading of the account of Abraham, the father of our faith, in verses 8 through 19 underscores this truth like none other.

Making sense of prophetic timing

The Lord isn’t slow to do what he promised, as some people think. 2 Peter 3:9 (God’s Word Translation)
The timing and means of prophetic pronouncements are often cloaked in mystery. And here is why. Prophecy lifts us into the realm of the Spirit which transcends time and space as we know it. Time for God is different than time for us. “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8) Past, present and future for us is simply “now” for God.

There are two things that are often stumbling blocks when it comes to processing personal prophecies and promises from the Lord. They have to do with the timing of their fulfillment and the means by which they ultimately come to pass. Because we are working from a limited understanding, our script of when and how God intends to do something often leaves us scratching our heads. Invariably God’s timing and way of doing something do not match ours. (Isaiah 55:9)

Testing a message from God

How does a person who really wants be directed by the Holy Spirit test whether or not it is God’s voice they are hearing? God speaks in myriads of ways. He speaks primarily through the Bible, but also through inner impressions (thoughts and visions), dreams, circumstances and through other people. The problem is that the voice of the devil and self also use those same means to deceive us.

Consider the fact that the Devil used scripture to try to deceive Jesus. In fact Paul in writing to the Galatians warned that even messages from angels needed to be tested for deception. (Galatians 1:8)

And our own hearts can deceive us. The prophet Jeremiah tells us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (17:9) In other words, it is easy for us to deceive ourselves and to be deceived when we are not crucifying the flesh or keeping strong selfish desires in check.

The simplest approach to determining whether the guidance we are seeking is from God or not is based on an old principle from celestial navigation. You might call it the three point alignment principle. A sailor desiring to determine his location needed three fixed points such as stars, planets or the sun and moon. GPS guidance works on the same principle requiring three satellites to determine latitude and longitude and a fourth to obtain altitude.

So how do we test messages purporting to be from God?

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