I really like penguins! I love to watch them walk and I love to watch them swim. I love the cartoon movies staring these cute little creatures and I love it when Kailyn, my 2 year old, waddles around the living room, proclaiming,"Mommy, Kailyn is a penguin"!
Yes, penguins are cute and my daughter makes them cuter, but want to know something about penguins that aren't cute? Well, when the mothers return from hunting in the ocean, they reunite with their babies back on land and then they vomit all their food up and let the babies eat from their regurgitation.
That is seriously gross to me.
The idea of eating something that someone else has already eaten and swallowed makes me queezy. Yuck! But you know, spiritually speaking, many of us do it all the time.
Instead of our own quiet time with the Lord- reading, studying, praying, meditating- we so often rely on the results of other people's quiet time. We're so quick to listen to a podcast while we run or cook dinner. We conveniently listen to sermon's in the background while we are at our desks or driving around the city. We repost other people's statuses, not even taking the time to check and see if the scripture they used is correct or in the right context. Yup, we sometimes, absent-mindedly, take someone else's regurgitation and mistake this as our quality time with Jesus.
"Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" ~Acts 17:11
Did you catch that? Scripture says they examined the scripture. They weren't satisfied with just hearing it from someone else, they wanted to be sure for themselves that what they were hearing was the truth. How many of us are so determined? How many of us really take the time to analyze what is true?
Listen, there are millions of marvelous men and women who have been blessed by God to reveal truths and instructions to us. But our relationship with God will never be their relationship with God. When time comes to stand firm (Ephesians 6:14) on the Word of God in the midst of temptation, trials and troubles in this life, we cannot expect to move in the spirit realm by declaring, "Pastor So and So said..." No. We must know in our hearts, in our souls and in our minds, what God says. We must begin to condition ourselves to be women of THE Word, not just women who know some words.
There is nothing wrong with listening and downloading, but lets be "Berean" in our consumption of sermons and teachings. Ask yourself these questions concerning the messages you enjoy listening to.
1) Does The Message Reflect Sound Doctrine?
"There will be false teachers among you who will secretly bring in destructive heresies…” ~2 Peter 2:1
Just because someone uses a Bible verse doesn't mean they are being led by God's Spirit. Even the enemy knows scripture, so while you are mindlessly playing sermons in the background, do yourself a favor to pay attention to what is really being said.
Everyone has an agenda, and sadly, in this generation, there are too many wolves in sheep's clothing. It can be so discouraging when some people use God's Word to make a name and platform for themselves- on your expense. This shouldn't anger us or give us fear, it should make us more vigilant to determine truth from lies. You have to know truth to be able to discern truth. Just because something sounds good doesn't mean it is good. With the right resources and the right speech, any teacher can draw a crowd. So we aren't impressed by large followings or social media likes, we are impressed by truth, sound doctrine and teachings that point to Christ; not an individual or empty promises of self-indulgent "blessings".
Yes, God wants to bless us. Scripture says He has spoken many promises over us and will fulfill each one in us, in His time (Ezekiel 12:28). But when a pastor or teacher continually focuses their messages on natural positives (like wealth, health and fame) then we must question such information. God is good and His goodness overflows into our lives, but Jesus did warn that following Him would put us in difficult places and that righteous people undergo many attacks and troubles (2 Timonth 3:12). God's best for us won't always feel good to us. Remember, God refused to heal the Apostle Paul of his pain in 2 Corinthians 12:8. Paul asked God for healing 3 times, yet never received it- even though he is considered to be one of the greatest ministers of the Gospel.
You see, being loved by God and having a relationship with Him doesn't mean that every experience will benefit our egos. So beware of teachers, sermons and speakers who declare that God's will for your life is positive rainbows and sunshines and feel good music with money in the bank and new shoes on your feet. Sometimes, it's our trials that bring us where God needs us to be. Messages that don't incorporate these truths are red flags for us all!
2) Does this Message Point to Christ or to Self?
Jarrett and I visited a church by a friend's invitation. They had a cool stage, free coffee and an amazing song selection. It was a very emotionally thrilling experience...until the message was shared: "You will be elevated above your haters because they are beneath you. Your haters will have to come to you and humble themselves because you are a child of God!... They will be broke, while you're sitting on blessings... You will be prosperous because God's kids aren't broke..."! The crowd went wild, as I'm sure you can imagine.
The problem we felt, however, was that the focus was "You" and not Jesus. What happened to loving your enemies and doing good to those who hurt you? What happened to praying without ceasing so that God's Spirit will reveal the choices He wants us to make in our endeavors? Sadly, in this generation, we find so many teachings and messages on the power of "you" and not the power of Christ.
"I am afraid, however, that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may be led astray from your simple and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims a Jesus other than the One we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the One you received,or a different gospel than the one you accepted,you put up with it way too easily"
~2 Corinthians 11:4
Inspirational messages have their place, but they shouldn't be confused with the Gospel. Life coaches are needed, but they shouldn't take on the title of Pastor if their word's aren't God ordained. A godly teacher, speaker or minister will point you to the power of the Gospel, in Christ, only. Any other message or affirmation outside of Jesus is a perversion of the truth. So be careful around ministries that use worldly perspectives while incorporating random scriptures to support their points.
3) Does this Ministry Address Sin?
Oh, no... now we're uncomfortable, right? lol! In our culture, where no one is wrong and everyone has the right to live the way they want to, we don't like to discuss or even hear the word "sin" anymore. It offends us and makes us uncomfortable. We'd rather hide it, out of sight, and pretend it doesn't matter.
"We know right from wrong!", we declare. But knowing right from wrong and still doing wrong isn't really saying much, is it?
Although it's uncomfortable, we must be women who desire to grow and to mature into all that Christ desires for us. This includes receiving instruction on how to deal with sin. In Pearls of Hope, we have chosen to hold ourselves accountable through encouragement and correction. By doing so, we understand that encouragement builds us up, but receiving correction positions us to seek God for any necessary changes that need to be made in our lives, in order to live authentically for Him.
You see, if we want to reflect Christ, sin cannot be entertained in our lives (Rom. 8:29). Whenever we sin, we must confess (admit our wrong) and repent (desire to never repeat). This brings about growth, maturity and more of God's holy presence in our hearts. So if we are not intentionally placing ourselves in the position to receive conviction, instruction and correction about sin, then we are only hurting ourselves in the long run.
"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"
We should never ignore, accept, or practice what we know to be sinful. So naturally, we should not avoid messages or ministers who teach on such things .I’m not suggesting that every podcast or sermon we listen to should preach about the lake of fire, but those we choose to place over us as spiritual influents should teach the whole Bible, not just the feel good parts. They should encourage us to confess our sins and to repent, and we should be encouraged to do so!
4) Do their Messages Match Their Lives?
Social media is a mess when it comes to debates on spiritual matters. I've come across many conversations that protest the need to change in order to be close to God. The argument goes, "God loves me as I am and only He can judge me". And this is true, but God is in the business of perfecting His people. He sent Jesus so we wouldn't have to be judged and He desires to transform us, from the inside out, to look and live and love like Christ. So, if a man or woman is living a lifestyle that isn't progressing in Christ, then maybe you might not need to be gleaning from them for spiritual instruction.
Teachers set on God's truth will live lives that back up their messages. They will position themselves to grow, just as they are encouraging you to do the same. They won't look for excuses or misquote scripture to support their bad decisions. None of us are perfect, not even our pastors, but an individual who lives worldly without the desire to change isn't a viable resource when it comes to spiritual growth or development. Be careful of their instruction, for how can they lead you into a better understanding of scripture and of God if they are unwilling to allow themselves to be lead? Hypocrisy is an ugly character and it likes to spread itself around.
"So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation." ~1 Timothy 3:2
This scripture is for leaders of the church, but we are all leaders for Christ in some form or another. We should each desire that God produce this type of character in us all, and we should be sure that we are aligning ourselves and our families with ministries that take this instruction seriously. If you don't know a speaker's private beliefs, google them! Visit their website and read their mission statement. Call their office to get a better understanding of who they are and what their ministry is about. It might take some time, but don't let that intimidate you. Being informed helps us make better choices on what is true. Good words sound good in the moment, but one's lifestyle speaks louder than any sermon ever could.
As we head out to church today or turn on our favorite podcast station at work, let's consider the source from whom we are gleaning and let's be sure that we are practicing the example set by the Berean Church: to analyze what we hear, consider the source and pray that God's Spirit show us what is true. And in our world where truth seems confusing, let us take to scripture and not opinion, because we know that God's Word has no lie (2 Timothy 3:16).
What many of us lack is wisdom. The Bible instructs anyone who lacks wisdom to ask God and He will give it to you! Wisdom is vital for discerning truth. Godly teachers speak truth. So consider what your ministers are teaching. Guard your heart and your mind and ears and get connected to ministries that uphold sound doctrine. Get involved by being an active member so that you can connect yourself to others who will help you develop your understanding of God's truth.he Replacing church attendance with podcasts or Sunday TV shows is not synonymous to being taught and pastored in a community of worshipers (Hebrews 10:24-25).
So, to conclude, Penguins are cute in cartoons and at the zoo, but women of God should desire more than the regurgitation of someone else's spiritual lessons. Let's do better in searching the scriptures for ourselves and listening with intent and not aimlessly exposing ourselves to popular messages or feel-good doctrine. Let's really #BeTheShe who uses discernment and recognizes God's voice for ourselves!
Ephesians 4:14 says we “should no longer be children tossed to and fro…with every wind of doctrine…” Don't be easily swayed. Seek the truth and then stand on it!
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