Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spirituality, or spirits-uality

Hello friends! I have been buried in books and prayer for the past few months and am coming up for air. God is so good. He provides exactly what we need, when we need it. I don't mean when and what we "want," but what He knows we need, in His wisdom. Let's pray:

Lord, guide my eyes so everything I read is filtered through Your Word and Your Grace; guide my ears, so that I recognize the difference between Your Truth, and spiritual confusion; guide my mind so I remember that anything that draws me into serving myself, elevating myself, or celebrating your creations over You, as Creator, actually decreases my spirituality instead of enhancing it.

And Father, keep my heart close to yours so I never believe anything, except that only Your love can satisfy the longings of my soul to be still, and know God. In the name of the Way, the Truth, and the Light, Jesus Christ, amen.

In reading The Holy Spirit and You, by Dennis and Rita Bennet, I was struck by this quote:
"If you find much emphasis on the teachings of Jesus, but little on His Person, you may be sure you are dealing with a false cult. Christianity is not founded on the teachings of Jesus, but on the Person of Jesus. It isn't what He taught, but Who He is, that matters most."

There is so much in the world today designed to confuse Christians and non-Christians alike. Satan loves to entice us with a small measure of truth, which he twists until we foggily look around, and realize we have forgotten who is the Source of all good things, and begin to worship the good things, instead.

In reading various books on "spirituality," attending some classes on healing and "gifts," I have been struck by how seductive false spirituality is, how it alludes to a relationship with God, but really points us to a "god" that asks nothing of us, and offers nothing to us other than more metaphysical knowledge and a desire for personal powers, including psychic gifts. This tempting apple is not dissimilar from that which brought down Adam and Eve, promising the knowledge of God.

I am not referring to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which some confuse with talents or even psychic ability. We all are born with genetic talents but these are not Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Talents are an expression of our own creativity and genetics, which are certainly given by God and should be expressed and used. However, while Gifts of the Holy Spirit might complement our talents, they are given to us by God only after we have chosen to repent of our sinful thoughts and behaviors, and accept the sacrifice of Jesus that literally purchased our forgiveness.

We all want our talents to be celebrated, and we tend to search for activities that will highlight our talents. We should instead do as Helen Keller suggests, "It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks." A Holy Spirit Gift is power equal to the task.

It is imperative to understand that Spiritual Gifts point us to God, not to ourselves. Mysticism and metaphysics point us to ourselves, and to knowledge for the sake of learning, alone.

Too often people searching for proof of God, seek out spirits. Little-s spirits are nothing more than demons claiming to be ghosts, extra-terrestrial travelers, or gods (goddesses.) These spirits seek to possess and control people by seducing them with special powers. Is it any wonder that demons possess personal and private knowledge of our loved ones and even ancient peoples? They've been watching us for centuries. Demons seek to gain our trust for the purpose of opening our spirits up for their immediate or eventual possession and control.

The Holy Spirit does not possess and overtake your consciousness. He indwells our hearts, giving us direct communication with God the Father. We retain choice, personality, and we experience an increased capacity for love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and a desire to help others.

These Gifts are for two specific purposes: ministering to and encouraging other believers; and demonstrating the power and goodness of God to non-believers, so that they are moved to believe.

Spiritual Gifts are listed in the following scriptures. Make sure you read reputable commentaries and study bible notes on these gifts for more understanding about practical application.
Exodus 31:3; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14; Ephesians 4:1-16; Hebrews 2:4

The Holy Spirit Gifts are not designed to elevate ourselves and they never, ever involve speaking to spirits of the dead or allowing any spirit to possess us for the purpose of "channeling" knowledge. God is very clear about this in His Word.

Question any person or doctrine that encourages you to develop supernatural gifts merely for the purpose of increasing knowledge, or even under the guise of helping others if it is by your "spiritual" power and not by the working of the Holy Spirit, and without a requirement to be guided by, put to use by, and in submission to God. I mean God the Person, not god the universal energy that requires and demands nothing from us other than we "grow and learn" here on earth for our personal improvement.

2 Timothy 3:1-7 (New International Version 1984, ©1984)

"Godlessness in the Last Days
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.

I caution myself, and all of you who are seeking a more intense experience with God, to follow the advice our Lord gives when considering the teachings of any man, or woman, and that is:

"Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world." New Living Translation (©2007)

Examples include:

1 Kings 13:18 The old prophet answered, "I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: 'Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.'" (But he was lying to him.)
Jeremiah 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.
Jeremiah 23:16 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the (false) prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.
Jeremiah 29:8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let your (false) prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.
Matthew 7:15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 Test everything. Hold on to the good. Abstain from every form of evil.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 Now, brethren, concerning of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves.
1 John 2:18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
2 John 1:7 Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.
Revelation 2:2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.
Let's pray:
Lord, thank You for Your good gifts. There are many things we do not understand in this universe of Yours. One thing we know is true is that there is one God, one Father, one sacrifice for our sins who is Jesus Christ, one Holy Spirit by whom comes all Spiritual Gifts that increase a genuine spirituality. Help us to focus on You, instead of ourselves. Help us to help others in a way that leads them to the ultimate Helper. Help us to seek eternal gifts, and not temporary talents that serve our own egos, no matter how we dress them up in a cloak of spirituality. Your Gifts include discerning of spirits, knowing which are of Truth, and which are clever lies. I pray for each of us to be truly discerning of spirits, in the name of Jesus, amen.
Love, Karen

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