Monday, April 30, 2012

Why is discernment important?

“Teach me good discernment and knowledge for I believe in Your Commandments.”   Psalm 119:66  Darby

Every person has the right to have spiritual discernment.  You received this as a birth-right. The fact that you possess life provides evidence that you also have the right to allow the Holy Spirit to emerge from within.

The gift of discernment is the ability to recognize what is genuine from what is pretence; what is of God from what is not of God.

People, apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, act from natural urges, fears, worries, jealousy, hatred, envy, selfishness and bitterness.  They lack the power to self-rule and cannot live life from a root of wisdom.

The Holy Spirit often hides spiritual things to keep them from the unwise and reveals them to the contrite and humble.

A proud person blocks himself from comprehending spiritual things.  God resists the proud and gives grace or favor to the humble.  A proud person cannot be taught.  A humble person will never stop learning.

The Light shines brightly within the spiritual person.  The non-spiritual person, regardless of his or her religious convictions, walks in darkness and does not know even that.

Those who lack spiritual discernment have difficulty even understanding what spiritual means. Words can convey the truth, but discernment comes from within.

Discernment is a way of listening and paying attention to God's leading.  It is an avenue to bring God into our decision making.  Discernment begins with putting God in the center of everything we do as individuals and the Church.

We have to be willing to change, to put God's desires above our own and to trust that God wants the best for us. We also have to be willing to deepen our relationship with the Triune God knowing that God loves us, Jesus walks with us and Holy Spirit acts as our guide.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What is discernment?

“Teach me good judgment, wise and right discernment, and knowledge, for I have believed (trusted, relied on, and clung to) Your commandments.”  Psalm 119:66 AMP

Discernment is defined as” skill in understanding, grasping and comprehending; the ability to recognize or identify as separate and distinct.”  Syn: “perception, acumen, penetration, insight, discrimination.  The capacity to distinguish and select the excellent, the appropriate or the true”.

In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:15; “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”  Jesus says “Beware” which simply means to “be-aware”.  Are we aware of false ministers and teachers among us?  Jesus said in the next verse, “You will know them by their fruits”.

There is only one way to tell. You must exercise discernment, and spiritually speaking, you can only do that by relying on the objective standard of God’s Word. There is no other standard to employ in the search for Truth.  Jesus said: “Your Word is Truth” (John 17:17).  “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).  “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm119:105).   In order to use God’s Word as our standard, we must really understand it and to really understand it we must study it!

So much of what we see in the Church today is geared toward entertaining people, meeting their ”touchy, feely, emotional needs”, and utilizing music and pep-talk sermons to “win them” supposedly to Christ.  

The “gospel” being disseminated oftentimes is incomplete and almost always unbalanced.  Only by regular Bible study and a true heart of submission and repentance before God will we be spared the confusion so pervasive in the Church today.

I Thess. 5:21-22 teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).  According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer-it is required.

The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one's ability to exercise discernment in every area of his/her life.  For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves a person subject to all manner of false teaching.

Unfortunately, discernment is an area where most believers stumble. They show little to no ability to measure the things they hear and are taught against the standard of God's Word whereby they unwittingly engage in all kinds of unbiblical decision-making and behavior.

Discernment is more than just a skill.  Discernment is a gift from God before it is anything else. Yet there are skills you put to use in using your gift and you can become better at it through training and experience.

Discernment is more than just a process.  Even for the most 'material' or 'small' matters, there is a Spirit at work nudging us and leading us.  Also, for 'spiritual' matters, there are disciplines, methods, processes, means, and tools which the Spirit can work through to help us discern rightly.

The gift of discernment is the ability to recognize what is genuine from what is pretence; what is of God from what is not of God.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A divided heart makes a divided life………

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.   Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.   But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.   Matt. 6: 19-24 NLT

A summary of our series is that we cannot serve God acceptably with a divided heart. The Sermon on the Mount flows with such perfect harmony pointing to a heart relationship as the only to know and please God.

 A divided heart is equal to the serpent speaking with a forked tongue.  Have you ever been close enough to a snake to see its tongue poking out and wiggling at you?   The tongue goes in two directions.

 The expression, “he speaks with a forked tongue” means that what he is saying is not what he means, and what he means is not what he is saying.  Man, by nature, has the serpent's characteristics. The heart desires heaven as a way to escape hell, but lacks a desire for God.  That is the world’s religion today.

How many are truly seeking God?  How many churches teach the fear of God and a desire to do His will?  How many teach about a heart relationship with God?

We could sit under the most pure preaching of the gospel and still have a divided heart.  If we have a heart that is right before God, it is a heart of self-sacrifice and it is giving of ourselves to serve God for His glory. The Sermon on the Mount teaches the need of a Christ-like spirit, i.e., a heart of self-sacrifice which is required to serve God.

Serving two masters is contrary to the single eye concept Jesus taught in the preceding verses.  "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light…."  (Vs 22)

We must understand that the sole objective of our heart is to be reconciled to God and do His will.  It should be our desire that God's will become our will then our eye will be looking to what is pleasing to God as the objective of our life.

Jesus is teaching in our passage how Satan is cheating our souls, how he is stealing the true treasure in exchange for temporal things.  We think we can divide our treasures, having it here upon earth and in heaven, too.  

Jesus tells us our heart will be where our treasure is; so if we are building treasures for here and thereafter, then we have a divided heart.  He wants a heart where He is the focus not our things.  He wants to know wherein, is our trust and confidence.  Where our heart is there our treasure will be or where our treasure is our heart will be.

Whatsoever is of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is mammon.  It is not only the love of money; it is anything upon which we claim gain. If we are going to be a Pharisee; a church-going person, claiming that by the works of the law, we can be justified, it's mammon. We cannot serve God for gain; we must serve Him out of love.

Jesus did not say we must not, nor does He say we should not, instead He tell us we cannot serve God and mammon; we cannot love both. Where our heart is, there is our treasure.  It is impossible to serve God if our heart is set on something else.

“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one's own resources or in the stability of earthly things]--these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself].

And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.”   I John 2:15-17 AMP

Please understand that God is not condemning us for being wealthy or rich. The question is, “Are you serving those things and committing idolatry by having them be your god?”  Money is not bad; it is the love of money that is the root of evil (I Timothy 6:10).

“Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous.  If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.”   I Tim. 6:17-19 MSG

Friday, April 27, 2012

A slave to his possessions……..

In Matthew 19:16-22 we read:

Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”

 “Which ones?” the man asked.

And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.   Honor your father and mother.  Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”

Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”  (NLT)

This man was a slave to his mammon.  He chose to remain a slave rather than lay down his sinful nature and be a servant of Jesus Christ.  Did you notice that the only commandments that Jesus talked about here were the easy ones?  

Don’t steal, kill, commit adultery, don’t lie, honor your parents and love your neighbor.  Jesus knew where this man’s loyalties lay. The other commandments are just as important but Jesus chose to focus on the very thing that was holding up this man’s decision.  His possessions…… his mammon.

Jesus is not saying that wealth is bad, and in order to follow him you must give up everything.  No, Jesus knew that this man was a slave to his possessions.  He knew that the man was not a good steward of what he had, but rather what he had was a steward of him.

 Jesus does not want our stuff He wants us to put Him before our stuff.  You can still be wealthy and be a servant of Christ. You just cannot be a slave to your wealth and a servant of Christ.  If this man had chosen to put Jesus first and his wealth second, he would have had life more abundant, he would have had the peace of Christ, but instead all he got was sorrow.

When we are not focused on God we live an anxious life, full of doubt and worry, mistrust, fear and despair.  Rather hope in the Lord and He will renew your strength, you will mount up on wings as eagles.  He will empower you to overcome the shackles of sin and live life abundantly.

 “He gave the right and the power to become children of God to those who received Him. He gave this to those who put their trust in His name.”  John 1:12 NLV

Would you believe in His name?  Would you put your own mammon aside and take that road less traveled?   

 The choice is yours.  You are standing in a “yellow wood” (Robert Frost).

Will you take the road not taken by most?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A fork in the road………..

“You cannot be the slave of two masters! You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”  Matthew 6:24 CEV

In Exodus we read about the children of Israel being led to freedom by the man God Himself called to lead them.  The Jews had been praying and crying out to God to deliver them from their bondage. God heard the cry of His people and sent Moses to deliver them from slavery and lead them to the Promised Land.

On the way the Jews felt that they were in an impossible situation and wanted to return to Egypt. They wanted to return to the shackles of bondage; slaves without hope.  Instead of trusting God to deliver them to the Promised Land they wanted to turn around and go back to where they came from.

 They came to that fork in the road and they took the road less traveled.  But as they went down that road, they doubted the choice that they made. They wanted to be slaves of Egypt instead of servants of God.

 Slaves and servants are two different things.  A slave has no rights; they are property.  They cannot make any decisions for themselves, and they are subject to the whims of their master.  

A servant chooses whom he will serve.  It is the desire of the servant to please his master and his master in return loves him for it. The servant is free and he is elevated above the value of a piece of property.  He is worth something to the master.  

You see, the Jews here learned that they could not serve two masters.  They learned that they could not be a slave and a servant.   They continued on the road less traveled that they might serve a loving God who would reward them for their faithfulness.

We too have come to that same road.  It is a choice that we must make.  Do we choose to continue in a life of sin, glorifying our mammon?

It is written that “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.”  All of us have sinned.

When we sin we are in bondage and we are slaves to the evils of this world.  Peter says in 2 Peter 2:19: “……..they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption.  For you are a slave to whatever controls you.” (NLT)

It is much better is it to be free and a servant of God than to be a slave of our mammon………..a slave to sin.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

No Neutral Territory………….

Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other." (Matt. 6:24)

A modern reading of that might suggest that someone cannot hold two jobs without some inner conflict. That is simply not true - but what Jesus said is true. The difference is in what the word "serve" means.

Jesus was not talking about a job, or serving as we generally think of it in terms of modern work.  Jesus was speaking about the dedication of your life. The key is in the term "master".

In that day, serving a master was the meaning of one's life.  It meant slavery, or something very much like slavery. The service of one's master was the meaning and substance of their lives and daily existence.  How and when, and even whether or not you ate, or slept, or where you would stand, or what you would do with your time was determined by the master and your service. There was no time 'off' in these master / servant relationships. There was no 'free' time, necessarily.  The servant lived for the service of the master.

That is why they could not serve two masters.  It would mean that the meaning of life and the rationale behind each action and decision would be divided by the 'service' of two masters, and those needs, demands, and duties would often be in conflict, and sometimes be utterly contradictory.

In such a situation, you simply would have to choose - do I help my master 'A' or do I serve the interests of my master 'B'?  You would either hate the first one or love the other - by your actions and decisions - or you would hold to the first master, and despise the other by not serving him.

This principle also applies to us.

 Either you are with Christ, or against Him. Jesus actually said that once, in Matthew 12:30. There is no neutral territory, and there is no 'splitting the vote.' Your heart, mind and life are with Christ, and you serve Him in the same sense as the ancient "servant" in the time of Jesus, or your real allegiance is with someone or something else.

Either you are a Christian, or you are not. Jesus said it is either one or the other and if you try to juggle both you are doomed to fail and even the attempt is completely rejected by God.  Either you love God, trust God, and serve the one true God, or your "god" is someone or something other.

Jesus was always a very black and white kind of guy - there aren't any "grey areas" when it comes to Him, and He proclaims the truth of God as He speaks - in part, because He is God.

Jesus drops the hammer, so to speak when He said that "You cannot serve both God and mammon."  Now "mammon" is an Aramaic word which literally means "confidence", but it was used to refer to riches, or one's confidence in riches.

 Mammon, for us, refers to "stuff," the things of this world and of this life.  Jesus is referring to a devotion to such things - He mentions clothing, food, and drink.  His list was not exhaustive, but more in the way of examples, the most common and powerful distractions - or types of mammon.  Jesus chose the universal and most frequent focus of human concern to make His point.

His point is that to focus first and foremost on "stuff" is idolatry.  It is unbelief toward God and a form of worship, or "service", toward the mammon of choice.

 By the term, "unbelief", I do not mean that you doubt God's existence, or any specific doctrine about God.  I mean a lack of trust, because that is what Jesus was talking about.  He draws our attention to the birds, and tells us to notice how God supplies their need.

Jesus says, we are of greater value to God and He will take care of us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The road less traveled………..

“You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”   Matt. 6:24 GNT

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could.
To where it bent in the undergrowth,

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.” 

Robert Frost

Since the days of literature in school this poem by Robert Frost has been one of my favorites.  It tells us of a moment in life where we must make a choice and choose the path that we will follow for the rest of our lives.

 For some this could be a career choice, for others a romantic choice, financial choices, religion, where to settle down or even what food to eat or clothes to wear.   The point is that there are times in our lives where we must make a choice.

We all must choose to go the way everyone else is going, or to go the way less travelled.  This choice is discussed by Jesus in Matthew Chapter 6:24-34.   You cannot serve two masters, you cannot go down the road that is well traveled and the road that is less traveled at the same time.

You can only serve one.  All too often we try to do both, but it does not work.   We cannot serve both our God and our mammon or our wealth.  We actually must make a choice.   God has given us the ability to choose Him or to choose our wealth.

 Now our wealth does not refer to just money, although money tends to be the biggest player in this. It is anything that we prize and make the most important in our lives.  It could be sports, boats, alcohol, sex, gambling, eating, houses, jobs, cars/trucks, status/position, clothes, control, church, people, spouse or children.  It is anything that comes into our life that we choose to spend all or most of our energy on.  

 We have the right and the ability to choose, but the consequences of our choices have already been predetermined by God.  The person who has Jesus has the rewards of an abundant life as stated in John 10:10: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”. (NKJV)

So if your god is mammon then what do you have to look forward to?  

Destruction……. Being Robbed….. Fear……Worry……..Doubt?

 We should choose Christ and have peace and a more vibrant life!  What a God we serve……. if we so choose.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Who Are You Serving?

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).”   Matt. 6:24  AMP

Now we come to a very powerful and pivotal point in the passage of Matthew 6:19-24.  The last verse of this passage, in fact, is the climax of the Sermon on the Mount. 

This passage asks the all-important question, “Who are you serving?”  People often think they can have the best of both worlds – here on earth serving themselves and later down the road in the future, consider heaven.

 In this passage, Jesus states: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon(Matthew 6:24 NKJV).

Jesus tells us here that we cannot serve two masters.  We cannot serve money and God; we cannot serve popularity and God; we cannot serve ourselves and God; we cannot serve our families and God.  We can have only one master.  Jesus is once again challenging us to look at the whole Sermon on the Mount, challenging us to repent, to change our minds about earthly treasures, about the things that we formerly served, and to serve Him only. You cannot serve both no matter how hard you try.  One or the other will lose out, and in most cases, it will be God

God is calling us to a radical life of service to Him as our Master.  As I said at the beginning of this series, there is such huge importance in realizing that God is our Father, and we are His children.  God will take care of us and provide for all of our needs.  But the temptation to hold onto earthly things weighs heavy on us and tempts us to trust our riches instead of our heavenly Father.

This call is radical in that we are called to give up ourselves completely and to place our complete trust in our Father and to follow Him. We are called to deny ourselves, which means that self no longer has any rights. 

We are called to take up our cross, which means that we are to take the same path Jesus took, being willing to lay down our lives for His sake and His gospel.   We are called to follow Him.  We are called to imitate Jesus in all that He did and to follow His example.

 Jesus wants all of our heart. He desires that we have an intimate relationship with the Father as He does.  We cannot serve God and the riches on this earth; it just does not work. One is either despised or hated, while the other one is loved and followed.

Whichever one you serve is the one that is your master. If it is riches, those riches are your master, and they have control over you.  If it is the Father, He is your Master, and He has control over you.

So who or what are the potential masters in your life?

Who is potentially in charge of your life?

In other words what is motivating you?
Someone else’s ideas,
Your own desires,

The big question to ask is where does Jesus fit into this picture?

For our lives to make sense Jesus needs to have priority in all aspects of our lives.

Who are you serving?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sin is where the glory of God is absent………..

“The [basis of the] judgment (indictment, the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence) lies in this: the Light has come into the world, and people have loved the darkness rather than and more than the Light, for their works (deeds) were evil.

For every wrongdoer hates (loathes, detests) the Light, and will not come out into the Light but shrinks from it, lest his works (his deeds, his activities, his conduct) be exposed and reproved.

But he who practices truth [who does what is right] comes out into the Light; so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are--wrought with God [divinely prompted, done with God's help, in dependence upon Him].”                    John 3:19-21 AMP

John 3:19 implies that the world has no light therefore it needs the light to shine into it. When the light shines, it comes to influence, illuminate and change the world.

When Jesus proclaims we are the light of the world, there are three principles: (1) the world is dark so our existence has value because we are the light of the world, (2) Christians need to live a dynamic not passive life TO influence instead of constantly being influenced by the world and (3) we need to be self-sacrificing moment by moment to bless others.

When the candle is burning giving light it is actually burning itself.

What does it mean when the Bible say God is light?  It says the light will go into darkness and influence all that is dark.  It will never be influenced by darkness. Light can chase away darkness.

What is the relationship between light and darkness?

There are a few possibilities: (1) Light chase darkness so darkness runs away, (2) darkness hides because it is afraid of the light, (3) darkness is destroyed by the light.

If darkness escapes when light comes, is it escaping at the same speed of light?

If they are the same speed, then wherever light comes darkness disappears at the same time.

We know that darkness is the absence of light therefore sin is where the glory of God is absent.

Because the deeds of men are evil they love darkness rather than light.  It is unnatural for darkness to reject light.  In nature, wherever there is light darkness would surrender.  But spiritually, Jesus (the Light) was rejected by men who lived in darkness because the deeds of men were evil.

People who are seeking God want to be in the Light all the time, letting the Light expose their thoughts, words, and deeds.  They know that there is nothing beneficial about the darkness, so they want every part of their lives exposed by the Light.  

They want to see if their deeds are “wrought in God”-- performed in God's will and by His power, instead of in the flesh (in human strength, in self-centeredness, seeking praise from others).

 People who are born of the Spirit are to live in the power of the Spirit, letting the Spirit of Christ do His works through them.

John 6:63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing….”

John15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Evil is uncomfortable in the light………..

“Here is the judgment.  Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light. They loved darkness because what they did was evil.

 "Everyone who does evil things hates the light.  They will not come into the light. They are afraid that what they do will be seen.”  John 3:19-20 NIRV

Verses 19 and 20 are not written just for "really bad people."  Any person who is afraid to be changed by Christ stays in the darkness where thoughts, words, and actions are unexposed.  Even though they may believe that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, they will not give Him full control of their lives for fear that they will have to change their lifestyle.

Evil is uncomfortable in the light.  It likes darkness:

“These wrongdoers are of those who rebel against the light; they know not its ways nor stay in its paths.

The murderer rises with the light; he kills the poor and the needy, and in the night he becomes as a thief.

The eye also of the adulterer waits for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me, and he puts a disguise upon his face.

In the dark, they dig through [the penetrable walls of] houses; by day they shut themselves up; they do not know the sunlight.

For midnight is morning to all of them; for they are familiar with the terrors of deep darkness.”   Job 24:13-17 AMP

The person who loves the darkness rather than the Light is deceived.  Say a heroin addict is offered a free rehabilitation program that is guaranteed to work, but turns it down because he does not want to give up heroin.   He is deceived into remaining in his present lifestyle, enslaved to the drug, instead of receiving freedom from it.

 A successful businessperson could be another example--refusing to commit his life to Christ for fear that he may have to give more money, work fewer hours, or give up his business to become a missionary.

 Satan is crafty.  He is an expert at tricking people out of the spiritual riches and awesome joy that Jesus offers.

“They do not believe, because their minds have been kept in the dark by the evil god of this world. He keeps them from seeing the light shining on them, the light that comes from the Good News about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”   II Cor. 4:4 GNT

Do not be deceived.  There is nothing on this earth that is better than knowing Christ.

God wants you to come and let Him change your desires.  Come to the Light and let God expose your sinfulness, trusting Him to change you.  Over time you will lose the desire for the things or lifestyle that you were once afraid to give up.

You will find that Christ Himself will fill you with joy, and that the things of this world, which once seemed so attractive, are actually obstacles to the real joy that is in Christ.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spiritual vision comes when………

“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.   But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.   And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”   Matthew 6:22-23

“But if your eye is evil.” (KJV).  The evil eye refers to self-centeredness and covetousness, insincerity, critical spirit, sinful intentions, selfish desires and self-centered motives. (Deut. 15:9), (Proverbs 28:22), (Matthew 20:10-15), (Proverbs 23:6, 7), (Mark 7:21-23).

 If the eye of the heart, the eye of our understanding, the eye of our desires, motives and intention be focused on the satisfaction of self or on the praise of men, our actions will be the results of the darkness within.

 If our hearts receive not the light of God’s Word, if our conscience is darkened and unenlightened, if our motives be impure and selfish, if our actions be directed by sinful thoughts, then our conduct, character and behavior will be works of darkness.

We shall be judged by God and shall be punished in everlasting darkness, eternally separated from God and from the light of His glory.

We need single-mindedness, a single eye, pure motives, pure minds, an affection completely fixed on God and His glory.  Then shall we walk, moment by moment, in His light, preparing to live in the eternal light of glory with God and Jesus.

The parable in verses 22 and 23 further explains these messages.  The illustration of the eye in relation to the body is used: there are two kinds of eyes - a single eye, meaning a sound, healthy eye and an evil eye, meaning a diseased, dim, darkened eye.  The single, sound, healthy eye gives light to the body, helping one move towards God and heaven.

The evil, darkened eye cannot see the eternal future, making one to walk in darkness, which will ultimately lead to eternal darkness. The “evil eye” speaks of a heart, mind and conscience darkened by sin, self and Satan. The actions and motives of the “body” directed by an “evil eye” will be sinful, self-centered and Satan-controlled.

Our spiritual perception determines our spiritual fate.  Therefore great care must be taken to respond to the light that leads to truth. Jesus is the light of the world and He has been placed for all to see.  His teaching is given openly, but it must be received.

 We are responsible for our spiritual condition by how we respond to that light. If we take in Jesus’ light, we will be spiritually healthy.  We will be able to discern the choices of life with spiritual perception.  We will be able to give off light, reflecting God’s truth by the way we live. But rejection of that light has a tragic ending: it produces darkness and leads to certain destruction.

Jesus declares in John 12:46, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness”.  Spiritual vision then comes when you turn your eyes away from the world, away from self, away from materialism, and turn your eyes wholly upon God.

May God speak to each one of us and give us a clear perception of spiritual things. We want our eye to be single. We want to come to Jesus, the light of the world, with single-hearted devotion to Him.

How Is Your Vision?

“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.   But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.   And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”   Matthew 6:22-23

The eye receives the light and through that light the activities of the body are directed.

 What directs our moral and spiritual actions?   Answer: our heart, our spirit, our conscience, our desires, our intentions, and our motives.

When our heart receives the light of God and the light of His Word, our eye is single, sound and healthy, and our actions are acceptable to God.

Thine eye shall be single.” (KJV)  The word “single” here means sound, wholesome, and healthy.  The single or sound eye refers to purity of intention or selflessness in our motives.

With purity of motive our actions or the intentions of our activities will be full of light.  With selfishness in our motive and insincerity in our intentions, we are termed to have an “evil eye” and our actions will be works of darkness.

If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 

When the eye is directed singly and steadily towards an object and is sound and healthy, everything is clear and plain.  If the eye is not sound or healthy everything is dim or dark.

The eye regulates the motion and direction of the body. Walking through this world, it is important to fix our “eye”, our heart and affections on God in order to conduct ourselves righteously.  Our conduct will be steadily righteous and acceptable to God when our motives are pure and we seek only the glory of God and the salvation of souls in all our actions.

Having our eye of faith single and unwavering “setting our affection on things above, not on things on the earth”, “setting our face like a flint” fixed on the glory of God, our actions and conduct will be approved of God.

All that is needful to direct our soul and conduct is that the eye of faith be fixed on God.  Our motive must be pure and focused on God’s glory then will our life be holy and acceptable to God.

The eye that is full of light is a life lived by faith in the eternal promises of God. We may not be able to see the physical manifestation of those things, but we believe by faith in the truth that one day we will be with Jesus. 

When our focus is on earthly temporal things, our sight is all blurred and messed up.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The light in you………..

“The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.

If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.”                Luke 11:34-36  KJV

Here in Luke 11, we also find the use of the word “singleness”.  If something is single, it implies that it is whole. There is only one element, one piece, one unit.

If your eyes are one way here and one way there, they cannot be fully looking at both directions at the same time. Your vision is not in focus.  But when it is single, when it is whole, i.e., completely concentrated in one direction, everything becomes clear. This word ‘whole’ appears twice in Luke 11:36.

The original word for ‘whole’ is sometimes translated by the word ‘complete.’  So the person whose eye is single is also a person who is complete.  His attention is totally directed towards God.  This is the vital principle of spiritual vision. When your eye is completely fixed upon God, no part of you is darkness.  The light of God’s truth will shine upon you with its rays and give you light.

In this parallel passage in Luke, it is interesting that it is almost identical to the passage in Matthew 6.  In Luke 11:36 we are warned: “ out that the light in you may not be darken,”  so we are to be on the watch that we take in His light, not darkness.

You see, every man thinks that he sees and that he has light. Every man also, thinks that what he sees, what he believes and what he perceives is the truth.

Jesus tells us that it is not always the case. You may think that you see, but in reality you are in the dark. It is like a person who is nearsighted but he doesn’t know that he is nearsighted.  He thinks that he sees well, but in reality, his vision is blurred.

It is all a question of perception, whether we see with a healthy eye or a diseased eye.  The good eye is the single eye, the eye that concentrates on seeing the light, the way of God and His righteousness.  It can take in spiritual truth. The bad eye is the evil eye.  It centers upon the world and material things. Its focus is on self and wealth.

What determines the health of the body, whether it is full of light or full of darkness depends on the content of what we perceive. In other words, what we are is related to what we take in and accept as truth.  That is why having healthy eyes is so important.  If our eyes are good, we will see the light that Jesus offers.  If our vision is clouded by evil, we will miss that light.

Jesus’ light is shining forth upon all of us.  If we do not see that light, it is not because the light is not there.  It is because something is wrong with our eyes; our spiritual eyes.  Jesus is warning us to make sure that what we see is seen with a good eye.

Make sure that what is in you is light and not darkness.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spiritual Double Vision…………………

"The eye is a light for the body.  If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are evil, your whole body will be full of darkness.  And if the only light you have is really darkness, then you have the worst darkness.”  Matthew 6: 22-23  NCV

Singleness of the eye and heart means that you set your attention upon God for the purpose of doing His will. This is a fundamental principle of spiritual vision.

The opposite of single vision is of course double vision. 

Double vision occurs when our two eyes do not look in the same direction.  One eye is looking at an object and the other eye is looking at something else.  The result is that you see a single object as two objects.  This can also happen with our spiritual vision.

 Instead of having our whole attention focused on God, we have one eye on God and another eye on the world.  Our loyalty is divided between God and someone or something else.  That is spiritual double vision.

In the context of Matt. 6:19-24, there is another thing called mammon, i.e., the riches of the world. The loss of vision is caused by the selfish ambition to lay up treasure for ourselves on earth.

It plunges us into moral darkness. “But if your eye is bad (if your eye is not single), your whole body will be full of darkness”.    Jesus deliberately uses the word ‘darkness’ because it is a picture of blindness in the Bible.

You find that in Psalm 69:23 for example: “Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see”.   In Acts 13:11 we read that a magician was trying to oppose Paul. Paul had to deal severely with him and blindness came upon that magician: “A darkness fell upon him (that is, he became blind), and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand”.

When a man looks with a double interest upon both earthly and heavenly treasure, it makes him double minded.  In fact, he is called a double-minded man in James 1:8.  He is unstable in his commitment.  This double-minded person, the man with spiritual double vision is the kind of person who gets nowhere in his spiritual life.  His whole life is in darkness.

Jesus warns us that we have to make a choice.  It is a choice that has to be made between serving God and serving material things.  Every man without exception has committed his life to one of two treasures: mammon or God.

His heart and his eyes are focused upon earthly things or upon heavenly things.  God does not accept a person who cannot make up his mind and ends up giving his attention to both.

You have to make a definite choice.  You either serve God or you serve material things. But you cannot serve God and mammon at the same time. When two masters call upon a man at the same time, that person has to choose which master to favor.  In cleaving to one, he automatically rejects the other.

You cannot have one foot in the kingdom of God and the other in the world.  God does not accept the divided man.

James says, “Let not that man (the double-minded person) expect that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:7).

The only kind of Christian acceptable to God is the person who is totally committed to God, whose eye is single.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

If your eye is single................

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.  If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!  Matthew 6:2-23 KJV

We find in Proverbs 20:27 where man’s spirit is compared to a lamp: “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart” (NKJV).

The human spirit can have certain knowledge of its condition and state in reference to God and to salvation. This helps us to understand the Lord’s teaching because we can see a parallel between the spirit and the eye. We realize that as the eye is to the body, the spirit of man is to his soul. Just as your eyes perceive material things, your spirit can perceive spiritual truths.

We all know that the physical eyes can see sharply only if the vision is focused.  If our eyes are not focused, we have a blurred vision.

The same is true in the spiritual realm.  When Jesus said, ‘If your eye is good,’ He means, ‘If your eye is single.’  That is the translation you find in the King James Bible.

If you are going to see anything spiritually, then your vision must be single.  The word ‘single’, applied spiritually, means singleness of devotion, singleness of attention, singleness of heart.

The heart is sometimes equivalent to the eye in the Scriptures.  To ‘set the heart’ and to ‘fix the eye’ on something are parallel expressions.  An example of this is found in Psalm 119.

Psalm 119:10: With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments.

Psalm 119:15: I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways.

In the same way, Jesus passes from the importance of having our heart in the right place in Matthew 6:21 to the importance of having an eye that is single in the following verse (v. 22).  

If you are going to see anything clearly in the spiritual life, you must focus totally upon God.  Your eye must be single. 

Singleness of the eye and heart means that you set your attention upon God for the purpose of doing His will. This is a fundamental principle of spiritual vision.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

If your eye is sound………

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light.

But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness!”   Matthew 6:22-23  AMP

The eye, physically, is the lamp of the body.  If you look around you, you see light. The light is being conveyed into your whole person, into your body. If you close your eyes, what happens?

Everything gets dark. You are in darkness.  If you open your eyes, everything is bright. You close your eyes, and you are in the dark again.

Jesus uses this common experience to remind us that the eye is the center of our perception.  It is the organ by which light enters the body.   What our body does depends largely on our ability to see because our eyes give us a natural ability to maintain our body orientation.  Therefore the eyes guide the motions of our body.

When Jesus speaks of the eye, He is of course not just talking at the physical level. What is used here in its literal sense has also a spiritual meaning.    The eye has an important spiritual sense in the Bible. It is used in connection with our spiritual eyesight, i.e., the capacity to see and to understand spiritual things.

We often make this kind of connection about the eye when we refer to the mind’s eye.  When I say, ‘Do you see what I mean?’ obviously I am not asking whether you can see it with your physical eye.  Words are not things that the eye can see.  

When I ask that question, I mean, ‘Does your mind, the eye of your mind, perceive what I said?’  In this case, you see with your intellect. Your mind is now serving as your eye. Now, with spiritual eyes, you can see spiritual truths. You can perceive the glory of God and that is what Jesus is talking to us about in this passage.

You remember when Paul was commissioned to preach the gospel; he was commissioned ‘to open the eyes’ of the blind.   Jesus said to him, “I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light” (Acts 26:17-18).  

Obviously, this was not a question of opening our physical eyes, but to enable us to understand the word of God so that we may receive forgiveness of sins.

 Jesus’ mission was also to open the eyes of the blind.  When He quoted Isaiah, He said, “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18).  Here again the reference is not to physical eyes, but to spiritual understanding.

 In the same way, we read in Ephesians 1:18 that Paul says to the Christians in Ephesus, ‘I pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened.’  The eyes of your spiritual understanding being opened.

Many people do not understand the gospel not because they lack intelligence, but because they have no spiritual perception.  They are spiritually blind in the sense that they do not understand spiritual things.

You can be a very intelligent person and be unable to make sense of the spiritual truths of God.  But when your spirit is alive, you have the capacity to know God and to know yourself in relation to God.