FAITH – The Narrow Perspective

Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV) Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

          Faith is a perspective. A Christian should have a very narrow way of thinking, believing, speaking, and behaving. This perspective comes from an unwavering trust in God and His immeasurable love for us.

John 5:19-20 (NKJV) Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

          Jesus only did what He saw the Father do. One of the reasons Jesus was able to perform miracles, heal the sick, and raise the dead is because He constantly practiced watching the Father. Could this be why we don’t see the level of supernatural life that we read about in the New Testament?

          The discipline of watching creates an awareness of God that dials up our sensitivity to the Spirit and puts life in this narrow faith perspective. It produces a healthy fear of the Lord that makes us acutely aware of what He is saying at the moment. The more we keep our attention and focus on Him, the clearer we become on who He is and who we are to Him. Being watchful births humility, and He gives His grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5 – James 4:6-7)

          As the great day of the Lord’s return gets closer, our attention should be on Him. We must leave behind the foolish practices of the consumer-driven church and become the bride of Christ without spot or wrinkle. Only those who dare to stand up, humble themselves, and take their place as sons and daughters of the King will enjoy the powers of the age to come.

          Watchfulness produces integrity of the heart, which makes resisting temptation easier. It keeps us prepared to face anything that life would dish out. Watchfulness is one of the essential parts of prayer that has not been taught or practiced in the Church. When we practice watching, we know better what to pray for and how to pray. It positions us to be a vessel that the Father can move through. Watchfulness helps to sanctify us and keeps us from missing the narrow road that leads to life and godliness.

Luke 21:34-36 (NKJV)“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Mark 13:33 (NKJV) Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.

1 Thessalonians 5:6 (NKJV) Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.

Matthew 25:13 (NKJV) “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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Exposing the Stronghold of Itchy Ears

Matthew 23:9-10 (NKJV) Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 

That may seem contradictory since the Lord Jesus gave us teachers in the form of the “five-fold ministry gifts” mentioned in Ephesians 4, but it is not. All the five-fold ministry gifts have one purpose, to equip the saints for the work of ministry. All five teach differently, but those teachings must be filtered through the anointing of the Holy Spirit and our relationship with God and His written word.

1 John 2:26-27 (NKJV)These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

Suppose we abide in false doctrine out of ignorance. regardless of our intention or our ignorance, we partner with the adversary, building strongholds of wrong thinking and wrong believing in our hearts and minds. We assist the enemy in his deceptions by building the strongholds that bind us. Unfortunately, it’s an evil deception that most of us fall for at one time or another.

These strongholds are not only reinforced belief systems but encampments in our minds that the enemy hides behind to insure we stay trapped in wrong thinking and wrong believing. As we speak and act on the things we believe, we reveal to Satan the best strategies to keep us in our deception. One of the ways he does this is to keep us running in the same circle of believers and despising the beliefs of other denominations. Denominational divisions were never God’s plan, and now they are an effective tool the enemy uses against us.

To be truly free, we must be very selective about what we are hearing and beholding, who we are listening to, and how much we are doing it. Without the filter of a robust relationship with God and His Word, we cannot skillfully discern sound teaching. Truth becomes obscured with the leaven of religious doctrine that appeases the carnal mind and satisfies our selfish desires. Self is the very thing we need to be set free from. Freedom from self will not come until we die to self by renewing our minds to the holiness of God’s word.

Again, are we abiding in His word or just reading the latest books and listening to the latest sermons? Do we desire the sincere milk of the word, or do we lust for the leaven of a self-serving gospel that doesn’t challenge or strengthen us for trials and testing?

Our tendency to have itchy ears and the lust for leavened bread binds us and blinds us from the truth. There is a reason the apostle James wrote, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1)

Let us abide in His word, seek Him when no one is looking, cultivate a hunger for the sincere milk of God’s word and become everything the blood of Christ has paid for us to be.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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Careful How You Hear.

Luke 8:16-18 (ESV) “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. 18Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

Many quote the first part of this parable, but verse 18 has the word “Therefore,” which ties together hiding our light with how we hear. 

With constant exposure to wrong doctrines, strongholds of wrong thinking and wrong believing will increase (we get more added), and our light gets progressively hidden. (what we seem to have, is taken away) No one intentionally does this; it comes from the enemy’s deception and catering to selfish desires and itchy ears.

We must all ask ourselves this question; What are the primary ways that we learn about God and His word? Through the teachings of others (leavened bread) or through reading and listening to the Bible for ourselves? (unleavened bread)

Only by the sharpness of the living word can we rightly discern and divide the truth. If we avoid the portions of God’s word that cut, pierce, and prunes us, we quickly slip into error and deception. Our light gets hidden, and our witness to the world is compromised.

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Many would say, “It is hard to read the Bible, hard to understand.” I would say to those people, walking and talking were challenging too, until you learned how to do it. Now it comes naturally.

Our leaders cannot walk or talk for us. Neither can they feed us anything more than leavened bread. We need the unleavened bread and the sincere milk of God’s word, and we must learn to feed ourselves.

The interesting thing about spiritual hunger is that it comes from feeding, not starving. The more we give ourselves to reading the word, the more we will enjoy it and desire it.  

1 Peter 2:2 (ESV) As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

Notice that Peter said, “As newborn babes?” He isn’t pointing out baby Christians; he is saying that our hunger and desire for the word of God should be like an infant that cries for life-giving milk every few hours. Mature and immature Christians alike.

Ask yourself, “what am I hungry for? Am I hungry for God and His word, or the latest preaching and teaching from my favorite ministers?” They are not even close to being the same.

If a minister reads the scriptures alone, you feed on the unleavened bread of truth. As soon as the minister explains and expounds on that truth, you are eating leavened bread, filtered through a vessel with two opposing natures.

I am not saying we don’t need ministers to help us rightly divide the truth. I am saying that we should be mindful not to make it our primary source.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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Ministering to the Lord

Do we have enough understanding of the word of God for ourselves to identify wrong teaching when we hear it, or do we let our leaders do the interpreting for us? Is our idea of studying the Bible to read everyone else’s latest book and googling all the popular beliefs on any given topic?

Even if we attend seminary and have multiple degrees, we must filter all that knowledge through our intimate relationship with the Lord. Attending Bible college does not qualify us or validate our call to minister. Without a personal relationship with the Father, we will teach doctrines of men and religious traditions filled with leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:6)

1 John 2:27 (NKJV) But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

The Bible also says, “call no man your teacher.”

Matthew 23:8-11 (NKJV) But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.

This is not a contradiction to Ephesians 4, where Jesus gave us teachers and the other five-fold ministry gifts to equip us. We should listen to other teachers and preachers. Still, at the same time, we must filter those teachings through our intimate relationship with the Lord, allowing the living Word to divide and discern the truth rightly. We can easily detect any error if we are sensitive to the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The result of not abiding in God’s word for ourselves is having itchy ears and becoming lukewarm in our relationship with God. If we are comfortable in our relationship with God then we are lukewarm and loving it. God gave us the Comforter for a reason. If we are abiding in Him, completely submitted to His will, there will not be a day we will not need to be comforted.

Revelation 3:16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

We should ask ourselves; How much time and effort are we investing in our relationship with the Lord? What does our relationship with God look like when no one is looking? Are we studying the Bible to know God better or learning to devise a sermon to preach to others?

Our relationship with God is our most important ministry. It is a ministry to the Lord, not to people. Ministry to people should come from the overflow of our ministry to the Lord.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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Exposing Our Self Deception

James 1:22 (NKJV) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

The self-deception that James is talking about is the accumulation of knowledge without practicing it. It causes us to think we know what we are talking about without ever living it. Just because we can quote scripture and have an entire library of memorized verses does not mean we know the truth.

When we teach what we don’t practice, we not only deceive ourselves but do an injustice to those we are attempting to teach. Until we are doers of the word, we do not know the word. Even if we memorize every scripture in the Bible, we only know those things we have put into practice.

Suppose we were to read and memorize every piece of information on the planet about flying a jet. Can we call ourselves a pilot? No! We can’t say we know it until we have practiced it. If we were to memorize every bit of literature about brain surgery, can we be considered brain surgeons? No! Doctors and pilots must work with other skilled professionals to gain experience in a safe and controlled environment where mistakes get no one hurt or put in danger.

It is ONLY the word we put into practice that we truly know.

Only by being doers of the word and obeying what we learn can we express and reveal our faith knowledge. This is how we come to know the truth intimately, causing us to grow in grace and the authority and power of the gospel. Obedience to the word of God is the way we express our love for Him.

John 14:24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.

We must ask ourselves; Are we learning from our relationship with the Lord and His written word, or are we just learning from the opinions of preachers and teachers? Are we studying to show ourselves approved by God, or are we just listening to the latest revelations from our favorite ministers? Do we rely on the understanding of respected theologians, or do we know God intimately for ourselves?

2 Timothy 3:14 (NKJV) But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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