Lukewarm and Think you’re Hot!

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?

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 the 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, we are lukewarm and loving it. God gave us the Comforter for a reason. If we are abiding in Him, wholly 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.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto:

Powerful, practical lessons about living a supernatural Christian life, exposing Satan’s deceptions, and equipping believers for victory.

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JC

How Faith is Refined

The Bible uses the analogy of a refiner’s fire to depict the need for purifying our faith. The fact that our faith needs to be refined tells us that there is something in it that needs to be purged and purified. Tests, trials, and persecutions are the fire God uses to bring about this purification. 

We can quickly identify where our faith is less than pure by the way we react to any given difficulty. When our faith is not pure, we will feel emotions that match the lies of unbelief.

If our faith is not refined, we will become overly emotional, worried, anxious, doubtful, overwhelmed, and powerless. When we are shocked by a bad report or a sudden tragic event, we can initially be shaken with negative thoughts and feelings. However, suppose those negative thoughts and emotions remain and cause torment. In that case, it indicates a deeper problem: a lack of trust in God that comes from a lack of commitment to the written word.

Negative thoughts and emotions are something we wage spiritual warfare against, taking them captive to the obedience of Christ. This is a necessary part of the refinement process of faith. To be strong in this arena requires daily intake of, exposure to, and relationship with the written word of God. The sword of the Spirit is equally as essential for defense as the offense.

The shield of faith is only as strong as the sword of the Spirit is established in our hearts.

God has designed us to feel joy, peace, and confidence when our faith is pure. Refined faith will find a way to glory in tribulations.

Romans 5:3 (NKJV) And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;

          Refined faith will count it all joy when facing various trials.

James 1:2 (NKJV) My brethrencount it all joy when you fall into various trials,

          Mature faith won’t find it strange when the fiery trials of life come upon us. We will rejoice that we are worthy of partaking in Christ’s sufferings. We will understand that the blessing and glory of God rest on us and there is greater potential for rewards.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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How are your Sword Skills?

God’s word is a sword.

Being skilled with the sword takes diligence and work. If we cannot rightly divide the word of God, why would we desire to teach it?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

All scripture is profitable for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, but not necessarily our interpretation or delivery of it. Handling the word of life without humility and the fear of the Lord can result in people being cut, hurt, and offended. It brings reproach on Christ, discrediting His name, harming the Church, and devaluing His word.

The Bible says in James 3:1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. And yet the world is full of Bible teachers that do not rightly divide the word of truth. We should all realize that teachers of the word of God are held to a high level of accountability. A stricter judgment. Teachers should teach from the overflow of their intimate relationship with the Lord, for these are the only things they truly know. Accumulation of knowledge about the word of God is not the same as knowing the Word.

In the age of abundant information that we live in, it is easy to accumulate knowledge about God and reduce ourselves to just relaying information. Unless we put that knowledge into practice, we don’t know the truth we are trying to shareThe common practice of merely sharing information results in teaching and preaching that lack spiritual authority with demonstration and power. Many try to compensate for this lack of authority and power by being funny and entertaining or by being dramatic and forceful in their delivery. These are poor substitutes.

We should keep in mind that the Word is a person. When we share the word with others, we are to share our understanding of that person. We should speak from what we have gained in the relationship, not the knowledge we have accumulated through academic efforts. If we are not practicing what we know, we cannot teach it with the authority and power it deserves.

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

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.

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.

It is only by being doers of the word, obeying what we know, that expresses and reveals our faith and causes us to know the truth intimately. Obedience to the word we know births intimacy with the Father, causing us to grow in grace and the authority and power of the gospel.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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Spiritual Gifts are Free, Maturity is Expensive

          Our identity is not found in our gifting or calling but in our relationship with the Father. An apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher is not who we are. It is how we were created to serve. We find our identity in our loving relationship with the Father, not our gifting.

          Disciples are made when people willingly follow you and your living example. What kind of example are you setting? What are you reproducing if you make disciples apart from intimacy with the Father? Do we really need two or more like you?

Our priority should be a growing relationship with the Father. We should be cautious of having followers if there are any other priorities above that.

          A leader can easily get distracted from spending intimate time with the Lord. A common trap is to replace being alone with God and pursuing intimacy with the busyness of religious activity. Another pitfall is to allow our “quiet time” or “devotion time” with the Lord to become lifeless, where we go through the motions and never connect with God on an intimate level. We can read a daily chapter or two in our Bible, run through our laundry list of prayer requests, and never take time to be quiet and listen to the one we are talking to. I have been guilty of this myself. It is tragic to become religious in our devotion to God and call it a relationship.

            We can learn about God from reading and studying the Bible, but to honestly know Him, we must spend time with Him, commune with Him, and listen to Him.

          Jesus set a remarkable example. He only did what He saw the Father do. This mindset demands a lifestyle of watching and praying. It’s not always convenient or comfortable, but it is necessary to be a disciple of Christ.

          If you read my biography, you can learn a lot about me, but you can’t honestly say that you know me. You may “feel like you know me,” but to honestly know me, you must spend time with me, ask me questions, listen to my responses, and spend time with me. It is the same with God.

          Reading the Bible takes on new dimensions when intimacy becomes a lifestyle. The word of God bears much more fruit in our lives. We begin to view His written word through the lens of His divine nature; we see it with an unveiled face and a heart of love that makes us more sensitive to His spoken word.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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