Protecting Your Mouth

I want to share with you my recent sermon on Omegaman Radio, “Protecting Your Mouth.”

Spiritual warfare includes protecting your mouth, i.e. knowing when to speak, whom to share with and what to share. Sharing too much (or any) of your dreams at the wrong time and with the wrong people can expose you to envy and sabotage. Learn to discipline your mouth and you will protect your life (see Proverbs 21:23). 

Here’s the link to the message: https://youtu.be/9Fonm-DoASI

Stay blessed and protected!

Stephen

Separating Admirers from Friends (Pt 1)

Daily Devotion | Day 328

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25, NKJV).

Friends are forever. Admirers are for a season. Understanding the difference will spare you confusion and heartache. Friends are committed to you. Admirers, on the other hand, are addicted to you but they are not necessarily committed to you, even if they appear so. We should clarify that there is nothing wrong with admiring others. We all have people we admire, for different reasons. It is a problem, however, when we give (or are given) the impression of friendship when, in fact, what is at stake is admiration and not friendship. Friendship and admiration may overlap but they are not identical.

In this teaching, we will identify important distinctions between friends and admirers. Our goal is to discover insights from the Scriptures which will help us become more aware of the different types of people in our life and how we can best relate to them.

Often, people confuse admiration with love. Because we admire certain people, we suppose we love them, and we give that impression when what we mean is, we are attracted by something they possess: status, charm, charisma, physical features, talent, money, power, etc. Conversely, when people admire us, it gets into our head. When they shower us with praise and affection, it gives a boost to our ego. Our emotions are aroused and we feel loved. Subsequently, we naively assume that those people are our friends and we draw them closer and closer to our heart.

The inability to differentiate between admirers and friends has led many into confusion and heartbreak. But here is the reality: While all your friends are your admirers, not all your admirers are your friends. Discerning this distinction will keep you safe and sane.

Let us look at an example from today’s opening Scripture. Jesus was a magnetic and charismatic figure. Not surprisingly, He attracted a large following. His ability to make miracles look like daily routine made Him even more appealing. On one occasion, He traveled from Capernaum to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. John tells us that while Jesus was in Jerusalem, “many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.” This sounds like great news. However, right after making this statement, John adds a curious comment. He says, “But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men” and “He knew what was in man.”

Jesus could tell the difference between those who were His committed followers (friends) and those who followed Him for the sake of His miracles or for other reasons (admirers). Many believed in Him, but He was not fooled by the numbers. He cared not so much about the numbers who followed Him, but rather their motivation for following Him. This awareness kept Him from falling into the trap of false friendship. A lot of people admired Jesus and were attracted to Him, but not all His admirers were His friends. The point is: Jesus does not want admiration. He wants friendship. And He knows the difference between the two.

We, too, need to discern the difference between our admirers and our friends. It is unwise to commit ourselves to people on the sole basis of their admiration and praise. May the Lord give you wisdom to understand the people in your life. Amen.

To be continued tomorrow, God willing.

For further studyMatthew 7: 15-23 and John 6:60-71

Where the Holy Spirit Leads

Daily Devotional: Day 151

“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:6-7, NKJV).

Paul, Silas and Timothy traveled together, delivering the decision of the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15:1ff) to the believers in several cities. Today’s passage tells us that at one point, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word of God in Asia. The Holy Spirit further prevented them from going into the Roman province of Bithynia. Instead, the Lord directed them to go to Macedonia; and they complied (cf. Acts 16:8-10).

Why would the Holy Spirit forbid God’s servants from preaching His word in certain places? After all, God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4). On the surface, the Holy Spirit’s decision doesn’t make sense. But if we look at things from a spiritual perspective, it should make sense. We need to understand and respect the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Jesus left Him in charge of the Church. To borrow a term from the corporate world, we might call the Holy Spirit, the Director General of all ministry tasks undertaken by the Church. Knowing this, we will do well to discern the will of the Spirit in all our ministry endeavors.

When Paul and his team were forbidden to preach in Asia and Bithynia, they didn’t fight it. They didn’t blame it on the devil. They humbly submitted to the Spirit’s will. How did they know that the Spirit didn’t want them to go to Asia and Bithynia? They discerned. Today, discernment is one of the critical areas of need in the Church. Without discernment, we would be operating in the dark, thinking we are working for the Lord, when in fact, we are on our own.

Some ministry decisions may appear right in our eyes, but to the Holy Spirit we would be operating against God’s will for us. Additionally, some things may appear to us as ministry opportunities, but to the Holy Spirit, that ‘opportunity’ may not be God’s will for us. At times we are so determined to do what we assume (without discernment) to be God’s will, that we fail to notice the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Bottom lineThe fact that you see an open door does not mean you must walk through it. Not all open doors are meant for you to enter. Some open doors are traps, not opportunities. Learn – by prayer and study of the Bible – to discern what the Spirit is saying in any given situation. Go where the Spirit wants you to go; don’t go where the Spirit doesn’t want you to go, even if you see opportunities; and finally, do what the Spirit wants you to do, according to the timing of the Spirit.

May the Father bless and increase you! Amen.

For further study: Matthew 10:1-15

Truth Is Neither Positive nor Negative

Daily Devotional: Day 118

“Then Peter took Him [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:22-23, NKJV).

To accomplish His mission as Savior, Jesus had to die for the sins of the world and rise from the dead to give us a new life – the new creation life. Satan tempted Jesus early on with the hope of getting Him to fall. He failed, but he did not give up. He moved to Plan B. If he couldn’t deceive Jesus directly, perhaps he could succeed indirectly – through Peter, a close associate of Jesus. That is what is taking place in today’s Bible text. Peter attempted to speak ‘positive’ things into Jesus’ life, but Jesus let him know that he was not speaking God’s mind, but satan’s.

Lesson 1: Not all those who speak supposedly ‘good things’ into our life are necessarily speaking the mind of God. Moreover, not all ‘misfortunes’ are necessarily bad for us. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). At times, the Father allows us to go through a ‘misfortune,’ because He has planned a manifestation of His glory through those circumstances (cf. John 9:1-3).

Lesson 2: At times we speak from the flesh and we don’t even know it, because we are not thinking what God is thinking. You may mean well and still speak the mind of satan instead of God’s mind. Peter meant well, but he was wrong, because he allowed satan to influence him; and he didn’t even realize it. Train yourself through prayer and meditation on God’s Word to detect satan’s presence.

Lesson 3: Peter’s (or satan’s) reaction to Jesus was selective. What I mean is, he reacted to only part of what Jesus said, but ignored the rest. He only heard the part where Jesus said He would suffer and die, but he ignored the part where Jesus mentioned that He would rise from the dead. Sometimes, we too, engage in selective listening of Jesus’ Word; we pick and choose what we want to hear and what we don’t want to hear.

Lesson 4: We live in a world – often influenced by New Age and theosophical teachings and terminologies – where we’re being conditioned to only seek and speak messages that are ‘positive.’ The belief is, so long as we sound ‘positive,’ we must be in the right direction. It sounds ‘Christian,’ but this is not what the Father teaches us. If you use a Bible app, do a word search for ‘positive’ or ‘negative.’ See what comes up.

When Jesus said that He was about to die, it sounded ‘negative’ to Peter, which explains why Peter said, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” Peter’s statement sounded ‘positive’ and caring, but it came from satan. Remember this: God’s Word is always true, but it is not always ‘positive.’ Satan’s word is always deceptive, but it is not always negative. At times, satan can deceive us with supposedly ‘positive’ messages. Bottom lineTruth is neither positive nor negative. We must, therefore, care about True or False, from God or from satan, but not Positive or Negative

The mercies of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you today. Amen.

Pray to the Father about today’s message.

For further study: John 8:12-59