Friday, October 28, 2022

Bold As A Lion (Proverbs 28:1)

 The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. [Proverbs 28:1, ESV]

Full-disclosure: I love this verse. Even if one took the phrase out of context, “bold as a lion” is such an awesome way to describe somebody. Before I made the conscious effort to repent of my sin, I remember feeling the fear that comes with sin. When I knew that I had done something that I should not have done, there was always the thought in the back of my mind that one day I would be held accountable for my sins. The idea that one will be held accountable for his sins is an idea that is based in reality, but only to a certain extent. If one does not accept the gift of salvation that God offers to all, then he will face the consequences of his sin. If one accepts the gift of salvation (which I would highly recommend that he does), then he will be forgiven, and he will have eternal life. That being said, being a Christian does not mean that we can live in sin, nor does it mean that when we sin our sin is not noticed. God is righteous, so He hates sin. One’s soul is spared from eternal damnation if, and only if, he accepts Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. God will absolutely punish us for our sin, but not in the way that our sin deserves to be punished. If God punished us according to our deeds, then we would all be going to Hell. The reality is that God has shown us such grace, such mercy, that He sent His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life.

Before I recommitted my life to Christ, I was living a sinful lifestyle. I was not seeking God, nor was I seeking His righteousness. As a result, I felt anxious all the time. I would want to hide myself away, I would feel like I should not be around others, I would feel like an outsider, and I would have the fear that everybody who loved me would find out about my sin and end up hating me. I was not a murderer or anything, I was a normal person, with the normal types of sin that a normal person deals with. When I turned back to Christ, I remember how He gave me the strength to endure temptation, to seek His righteousness, and to lean into Him and His will for my life. I am not, nor have I ever been, perfect. However, I am always seeking God and His righteousness, and I am being sanctified by the Holy Spirit as I continue to follow His guidance.

As I sought Christ and His righteousness, I felt more courageous than ever before. Rather than wanting to hide myself away, I began to share the gospel with everybody, whenever and wherever I had the opportunity to do so. Instead of keeping to myself, I actively sought out opportunities to serve the Lord, meet new people, and show others the love of Christ. Rather than sitting around and hoping things change, I stood up, started writing more (I do most of my writing while I am sitting down, but you get my point), and began pushing back against the devil and his influence in my life. By the power of Christ, I took back my life, I took back my home, and I took back my future. After reclaiming my life, I sought God’s guidance again, asking Him for what I should be doing. It was through that time of prayer that I felt led to reacquire my domain name, write more, and publish what I write about. I do not write because I want to be famous (I have a long way to go if that is my goal), nor do I write to make money (I really do not earn much at all), I write to serve God. If God wants to give me a greater reach on the Internet, then He will make it happen. Regardless, I am serving the Lord, and serving the Lord only.

In conclusion, when I began to seek God and His righteousness, God gave me courage, bravery, and the drive to do what He had called me to do. When I was complacent with my sin, I was afraid, guilty, and I felt like a failure. It was only when God gave me a new heart that I began to feel courageous.

With all that in mind, let us examine the verse that this essay is about:

“The wicked flee when no one pursues,...”

This part of the verse is describing the exact feeling that I had when I was not seeking the Lord. I was guilty, afraid, and unsure of what to do with myself. Without being threatened, I was afraid. My heart had been weighed down by guilt, weighed down by grief, and weighed down by shame. The weight on my heart prevented me from serving the Lord, prevented me from living a life that is filled with the joy of the Lord, and prevented me from reaching my full potential. There is a paranoia that comes with living a life of wickedness, and that paranoia causes the wicked to flee, despite not being pursued.

“...but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

This part of the verse describes the other feeling that I described in the introduction to this essay. When I turned back to Christ, when I sought Him, when I sought His righteousness, the aforementioned weight on my heart had been taken away, and I was able to stand up and be confident in my faith, in the righteousness of Christ, and of the sufficiency of His forgiveness. Christ paid the price for my sin when He was crucified, so I have no reason to feel guilt or shame. If I have sought the Lord’s forgiveness, if I have repented, then I should not feel guilty. God has forgiven me, and I am able to be as bold as a lion. Through the power of Christ, each of us can be as bold as a lion.

Boldness means more than just being at peace, boldness means that one is able to stand his ground, to be confident in his faith, and to be willing to defend himself. Boldness is what gives us the ability to resist the accusations of the devil, and it is boldness that gives us the ability to fight against the sin of this world. Christ empowers us to serve Him, but without Him, we are left with nothing but fear and paranoia.

Positioning Your Heart (Proverbs 23:12)

 “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.” [‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭23‬:‭12‬, ‭ESV‬‬]

How does one go about becoming wise? How can he increase his knowledge? How can he gain understanding? I think that most people would desire to understand more, to be wiser, to be more intelligent, and to be more educated. Why then are most of us not growing in wisdom and understanding?

The Bible tells us that God is the ultimate Source of all wisdom, and that, by seeking Him, we seek to gain wisdom. Of course, not all wisdom comes from God. How can God be the ultimate Source of wisdom when there is wisdom that does not come from God? Because the wisdom that is not from God is not very wise at all. James 3:14-16 describes the kinds of wisdom that are "earthly, unspiritual, demonic". In James 3:17, we are told what wisdom from God looks like. I have written about James 3:17 before (it is one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible), but I have yet to write about James 3:14-16. In the future, I will write dedicated essays for each passage, respectively. For now, suffice it to say that the wisdom of the earth is that which breeds division, anger, hatred, jealousy, and sin.

Back to the verse that this essay is about, let us ponder the meaning of the text. If we look at the surrounding verses, we see more about wisdom, how to cultivate wisdom, and what wisdom looks like. The book of Proverbs is about wisdom, so it makes sense that the majority of the book is about wisdom. The verse we are talking about today is its own statement, rather than being a statement that is broken up into two (or more) verses. As a result, there is room to debate the meaning of this verse. However, this is my essay, it is published on my website, and so I will write about what this verse means to me. :)

"Apply your heart to instruction..."

The first part of the verse tells us exactly what we are supposed to do: apply our hearts to instruction. The issue is that the meaning of "apply your heart" is not clear for everybody. The Bible describes the heart as an inner representation of a person's desires, character, and motives. Just as in water face reflects face, so does the heart of man reflect the man. When our heart is evil, our speech is evil, our thoughts are evil, we delight in evil, and everything we do we do for the sake of evil. When our heart is godly, our speech is godly, our thoughts are godly, we delight in that which is godly, and we do everything for God. When we apply our hearts to instruction, we are setting our hearts, and thus our minds, thoughts, and desires, on the gaining of knowledge and growing of our wisdom. By seeking instruction, we will learn what to do.

"...and your ear to words of knowledge."

Just as we are to set our hearts on instruction, so too must we set our ears toward words of knowledge. It is no secret that what goes in our ears will manifest itself in our mind, our speech, and our desires. Therefore, by setting our ears towards words of knowledge, we will hear knowledge, gain knowledge, and become wiser. The issue that keeps so many people from gaining wisdom and knowledge is not that there is not more to learn, nor is it that wisdom and knowledge are hidden. Proverbs 1:20-21 tells us how wisdom shouts in the streets, trying to get our attention. Wisdom is not hidden at all. In fact, wisdom is so plentiful that it is shouting at each of us, begging us to take heed. It is only when we set out to gain wisdom and knowledge that we are able to hear the call of wisdom.

If you want to gain knowledge, gain wisdom, and grow in your understanding, you must position yourself accordingly. Set your heart on instruction, set your ears toward words of knowledge, and know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. When you seek God, when you seek His wisdom, He will reveal Himself and His wisdom to you.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Choose Kindness (Proverbs 11:17)

“A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” [Proverbs 11:17, ESV]

When it comes to the workplace, some of the nicest people end up being the ones one should be wary of. It is no secret that many workplaces have issues with employees seeking to throw each other under the bus, and it is no secret that the cutthroat culture of the workplace ends up affecting life outside of the workplace. We often miss the opportunities that God gives us to glorify Him. How many of us truly view each day as another gift from God, filled with hundreds (or even thousands) of decisions to be made? Many of us approach each day with the mindset that, unless we have a package arriving in the mail, or we have a party to go to, or something else to look forward to, we are just existing. I used to view my life as a bunch of boring days, with the occasional high-point to look forward to, only for my life to go right back to being boring, until there was something new to be excited about. That process repeated for most of my life, and I had no idea how much I was hurting myself.

It took me twenty years to learn why I am alive, why I am alive now (rather than before, or some time in the future), and why I am where I am. The short answer is that I am alive because God gave me the gift of life, and I am alive now because God has something that He will use me to accomplish. I am where I am because God will bring something out of my situation, and I am alive to do what God has called me to do. Nothing God does is without purpose.

What does any of this have to do with the passage that we are discussing today? Well, when we look at each day as an opportunity to serve the Lord, every decision that we make becomes important, and every decision we make is influenced by the Lord and His Word. When we view every decision, of every day, as an opportunity to serve the Lord, we are met with a dilemma: will we choose to die to ourselves and serve the Lord, or will we seek to benefit ourselves?

Will we choose to treat others with kindness, even if we have to bite our tongues, even when it hurts us? Will we choose to sacrifice our desires for the desires of others? Will we seek peace, or will we seek anger and strife? Will we repay evil with evil, or will we repay evil with good? Will we bless others with the words we speak, or will we gossip and tear others down? Will we choose to obey God's Word, or will we serve ourselves?

For those of you who desire to serve the Lord in every area of life, the first half of this verse is for you. The latter half of the verse is for those who choose to ignore God and His commandments.

"A man who is kind benefits himself,..."

The former half of the verse is fairly straightforward. The man who is kind will benefit himself. How can a man benefit himself when we know that God's Word tells us to love one another selflessly, to forgive one another, how we should not repay evil for evil? If we are only looking at the potential benefits for our kindness coming from other people, or from anything on earth, we are going to be very disappointed. If we are only concerned with what others do in response to our kindness, the potential benefits we receive from them will be the only benefits that we receive. However, when we seek to honor God, to keep His commandments, and to glorify Him, He will bless us beyond our comprehension. When we honor God, God honors us. God's blessings are the greatest benefits that one could ever receive. Why seek to please man when man cannot save us? Why seek man when he cannot cure disease, when he cannot raise the dead, when he cannot restore the sight of the blind? God can do anything, He sees everything, and He will never let us go without a reward for our good deeds.

It may seem like God has not rewarded you for something you have done to show kindness to another person, but I would encourage you to take a closer look at your life. Perhaps your reward is coming, or maybe it was already given to you, but you did not realize it.  When we look at life with our mind set on serving Christ, we will honor God with the decisions we make, and we will be able to identify more clearly when God is at work in our lives. I never realized how much God blesses me with each day until I took the time to focus my heart and mind on God. It was only when my mind was focused on God that I was able to see Him working in my life.

"...but a cruel man hurts himself."

Conversely, when we do not show kindness to others, we will be punished. Just as God sees the good that we do in secret, so does He see the evil that we do in public. The evil we do, whether in public, or in private, is seen by God. God is just, and He defends the righteous. While acting in self-interest may benefit us now, God will ensure that we will not go unpunished.

Each of us has a choice to make. Choose kindness.

Friday, October 21, 2022

The Love In God's Discipline (Proverbs 3:11-12)


“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” [Proverbs‬ ‭3‬:‭11‬-‭12‬, ESV‬‬]

When I was a child, I remember being angry with my parents whenever they punished me. "It is not fair for them to punish me!", I would say. At the time, I believed what I said. However, as I have matured and been able to understand my parents more, I have come to agree with them on the vast majority of their decisions. I look back on my childhood, I remember what I felt when I was being punished for doing something that I should not have done, and I remember how I chose to voice my feelings. I have to give my parents credit for their patience. I was never a difficult child (as far as I know), but I had my bad moments. Those moments became more common during the first half of my teenage years, but became less common as I entered adulthood. I am still young, yet I have already seen how the way that my parents disciplined me when I was a child led to improvements in my character. Discipline has also instilled values in me that have stuck with me to this day. Chief among the benefits that have come as a result of being disciplined as a child is my humility. My humility has really made me better than other adults, and I have even won state competitions for my humility. No matter how often I win those competitions (which, to be fair, happens all the time), I make sure that I tell everybody that my humility is what allowed me to beat everybody else. The only thing that I hate more than arrogance is irony. I digress.

I have seen the way that my life has been positively impacted by my parents disciplining me. As I see the effects of having been disciplined, I grow in my love for my parents, my appreciation for them, and my admiration of them. That being said, my parents are not perfect. While the number of punishments I have received without deserving them are so few that I could count them on my hands, they confirm what I suspected as a child: my parents are not perfect.

My parents, despite being better than I am, are not perfect. One of the most difficult parts of becoming an adult is realizing that one's parents are flawed.

Why do I mention my parents? Well, if I love and admire my parents more for the way that they disciplined me as a child, how much more should I admire God for His discipline! The difference between my earthly father's discipline and my Heavenly Father's discipline is that my Heavenly Father is perfect, and He is just. His discipline is always right, always suiting the behavior that it addresses, and always leads to blessings in my life.

In response to the people who have wondered how God could love them if He allowed for such and such a thing to take place, I present to you Proverbs 3:11-12:

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof,...

To address us as sons is to show us that we are cared for, and that we are not just pawns of the Almighty God. God cares for each of us, and He thinks of us as His children. He is our Father, and we are His children. This passage is not spoken by God, but it is inspired by God, so it is not a stretch to see "my son" as an endearing way of referring to each of us. Also, just because the passage is directed towards a son does not mean that women are not included. God made humans in His Image. From dust, God created man. From man, God created woman. Men and women are equally valuable to God, so we should not think that a verse is only for men if it is addressed to a male. There are certainly verses that are targeted toward men or women, respectively. However, the passage we are looking at is not one that only men should obey.

We are told not to despise the Lord's discipline. "Despise" is a fairly strong word to use, but the word is used intentionally. To despise something is to intensely dislike it. The NLT uses the word "reject", in place of "despise". Whenever the Bible contains a word or phrase that is confusing, one of the best things to do is to compare translations. While rejecting something would be different from despising it, the two words go together. By despising the Lord's discipline, we reject it. By rejecting it, we forsake the blessings that God gives us as we seek Him and His instruction.

Furthermore, we must not be "weary" of God's reproof. The word "weary" is not synonymous with the word "despise". While "despise" is a strong word to use, "weary" is not. To be weary is to be indifferent to, to be bored of, or to disregard God's reproof. As for why we should not despise, nor grow weary of, God's correction and discipline, the second half of this passage explains.

…for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

When God reproves us, rather than concluding that He must hate us, we should understand that God reproves us because He loves us. This love for us is compared to a father correcting a son. Why would a father bother to correct his son if the father did not care about the son? Why would a father go through the trouble of enforcing a punishment, or even the stress of having to reprimand a child, if the father did not love his child? Why would God bother to show us the right way to live if He did not love us? If God did not love us, He would not care what happens to us, how we live, or whether we ever have a relationship with Him. The fact that God corrects us is proof that He loves us. God could wipe the world away and make a new world, yet He chose to send His Son to die for us, so that we can have eternal life. Most people would hesitate to take a hard pinch for a neighbor, yet Jesus chose to die for us, despite how He had been rejected and persecuted by the very people that He died to save. God loves each and every one of us, His love is greater than any word could describe, and greater than the brightest mind could ever comprehend.

I pray that this passage has helped you see God's love for you in a new way, and I pray that you can rejoice in God and His righteousness. He cares about you, and He wants to be closer to you. If you have not made the decision to follow Christ, I would encourage you to make that decision now. It is the best decision that you will ever make, and you will know what it is like to have a relationship with the Creator. May God bless you.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Faith: The Key To Receiving Wisdom (James 1:6-8)


But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like the waves of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. [James 1:6-8, ESV]

In the last part of our verse-by-verse study through the book of James, we discussed how God is the source of all wisdom, and how we can (and should) ask Him for wisdom. Today’s passage explains to us what we must have in order to receive wisdom from the Lord: faith.

This passage includes three verses. Let us begin by examining James 1:6:

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. [James 1:6, ESV]

The first thing that stands out to me about this verse is how it tells us that we must not have any doubt. The reason why this stands out to me is because of what Jesus tells us about faith in the book of Matthew:

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. [Matthew 17:20, ESV]

In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells us that we only need to have faith that is the size of a mustard seed, but James tells us that we must have faith, “with no doubting”. How can these verses coexist?

In my understanding, Matthew 17:20 is about the power of faith, rather than a general rule. Let us examine some another passage where Jesus talks about faith:

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. [Mark 11:23, ESV]

This verse tells us that we must have faith, that we must not have doubt in our heart, and that we must believe that what we have said will come to pass. Only then will the thing we pray for come to pass. This verse does not talk about praying in faith, however. If you go back and read Mark 11:23, you will notice that Jesus is describing what can happen if we say to a mountain “be taken up and thrown into the sea”. Does this contradict what Jesus says in the book of Matthew? No, it does not.

When I read the passages that we have examined, the explanation that I have for the apparent contradiction is that Jesus is making a larger point about faith, rather than describing a rule. For example, in Matthew 17:20, the verse begins with “He said to them”, which makes it sound like Jesus is responding to some people. If we go to Matthew 17:19, we read about the disciples asking Jesus why they could not drive a demon out of a boy who had been possessed. The boy in question had been brought to Jesus. The father of the boy told Jesus about the way the demon had been causing his son to have seizures, and had tried to burn and drown him. The father tells Jesus that he had already asked Jesus’ disciples to cast the demon out of his son, but the disciples were unable to cast the demon out. In verse 18, Jesus rebukes the demon, and immediately the demon comes out of the boy.

When the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to cast out the demon from the boy, Jesus responds to them. This is the context of Matthew 17:20. Jesus tells the disciples that, had they possessed faith as small as a grain of mustard seed, they could command a mountain to move.

Is Jesus telling the disciples that they could literally move mountains if they have even a tiny bit of faith? If the Lord wills it, then they would be able to move mountains. However, faith is not some kind of magical ability or something that gives us the ability to move mountains and perform other miracles whenever we want to. Sure, God could allow us to move mountains, but Jesus is not being literal here. The point of what Jesus is saying to the disciples is that faith is what gives us the power to cast out demons, heal the sick, raise the dead, and move mountains. Faith is so powerful that even if our faith is the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. Faith is powerful, faith is what gives us the authority to declare something and it be so, and faith is what allows us to receive wisdom from the Lord.

In the context of Mark 11, Jesus had cursed a fig tree, and the fig tree had withered. When Peter saw that the tree had withered, Jesus replied to him. That is the context of Mark 11:23. The point of Jesus’ response is not that we can do whatever we want as long as we have faith, the point is that faith is incredibly powerful, and that faith is what gives us the ability to see miracles happen.

There are many other passages that we could examine, but the point has already been made. Let us return to James 1:6.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting…

This continues from what verse 5 says about how God will give us wisdom when we ask Him for it. When we ask God for wisdom, we must ask in faith, and we must not doubt. We cannot have doubts about whether or not God is the source of wisdom, nor can we doubt that He gives wisdom to those who ask for it.

…because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

This part of verse 6 is designed to explain why we cannot doubt when we ask God for wisdom. When we doubt, we are like a wave of the sea. Waves of the sea go up and down, crash into other waves, and are unpredictable in their direction. We must be firm in our faith, rather than being thrown to and fro by doubt and uncertainty.

For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; [James 1:7, ESV]

Verse 7 tells us what we should expect when we do not have faith: nothing. Why would we be given wisdom if we do not have faith? What use would wisdom serve if we lack a solid foundation in our faith? What good would it do to have the wisdom of God if we do not know what to do with it?

…he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. [James 1:8, ESV]

This verse gives us more information about why we must have faith when we ask God for His wisdom. If we do not have faith, we are double-minded. To be double-minded is to be uncertain about what we think. A double-minded man has two ways of thinking, with them competing with each other in his head. We are to be of one mind, set upon Christ Jesus, founded on faith. When we have faith, when our mind is focused entirely on Christ, we will receive wisdom when we ask for it.

This part of our study through James ended up being longer than I had originally intended, but not as long as it could have been. I hope that you all have received something from the Lord as we spent time looking deeper into His Word. God bless you all!

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Refuting The Most Common Lies Of The Devil


As a Christian writer, I try my best to include specific passages from Scripture whenever I make a point. I have heard several people tell me how they really like the way I include the passages that I am talking about in my writing, and I plan on continuing to include Scripture whenever I am writing about it.

Today, I am making an exception to the aforementioned practice of mine. This is an essay that I have wanted to write about for months now. I have been seeking the Lord in every aspect of my life, and I have written about this journey of mine in many of the essays that I have published. It is no secret that I still deal with the pain that comes with waiting for God to do what He has told me that He would do. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the devil has been trying to discourage me from what God has put on my heart. As a Christian, I know that being attacked by the devil is not just a possibility, it is almost guaranteed. When I began to work in ministry, when I began to prepare myself for what God had put on my heart, when I began to write about the things that have helped me in my walk with Christ, I began to feel my spirit being attacked more than ever before.

I have experienced weeks of not being able to sleep, having nightmares every night, feeling anxious about things that never caused me to feel anxious, feeling depressed, and feeling like I will never get to see what I have been praying for. These attacks used to crush my motivation. I would wake up feeling like there was a weight on my chest, and I would end up sobbing whenever I was reminded of what has happened to me in my life. I was being reminded of things that I had not thought about in ages. The things that God had given me the strength to overcome, the thoughts and the memories that I was able to move past because of God healing my heart, and the feelings that I had not felt in ages came back out of nowhere.

Recently, God spoke to me in a dream. God does speak to people, and He speaks more often than most of us realize. I will not get into the dream in question, but I will say that it was something that encouraged me and gave me the faith to believe in what God had shown me.

Since then, I have felt the devil attack my spirit more often than before. This time, however, I have noticed something: as soon as the devil tries to discourage me, I know exactly what is going on in my spirit.

God has given me the ability (for now, at least) to identify the attacks of the enemy, as soon as they begin. Last night, while I was at work, I was reminded of this topic, and I decided that I would write about what I had been wanting to write about for so long.

As soon as I began to write about this, the attacks on my spirit became a lot worse. I have felt anxious, yet I have a strong sense of peace deep down in my spirit. Hell is paying attention, which means that there is more to this essay than I realize. If I sound angry or annoyed, know that it is not anger with the reader. I have been dealing with these lies for months and I am absolutely finished with the lies of the devil. Satan has no power in my life, no power in my mind, no power in my home, and no power over any part of me. Jesus Christ is in control, and I pray that what I have shared here will help you overcome the lies of the devil. If this helped you, share it with others. It does not matter if you give a link to this website, or if you just tell others the information that I have shared here. I just want to get the word out.

These are some of the most common ways that the devil has tried to stop what God wants to do in me and through me:

“There is no way that things could change.”

This is a lie from the devil that used to really discourage me when I began the journey that I am currently on. I remember hearing a pastor talk about this lie, and his response was so powerful that it has stuck with me ever since:

“You may look at a situation and think that there is no way for things to change. You may think that your situation is hopeless. If you think that things cannot change, I want you to think back to the story of creation. What did God create man out of? Dust. Dust has no life in it, it cannot do anything, and it certainly is not a human being. So, how did dust become a man? God’s breath. God took something that had no way of becoming anything else, no way to improve itself, no life, no future, and no use, and He breathed life into it. God’s breath is all that it takes to breathe life into a situation that seems to have no life left in it.”

I am not quoting the pastor, but I think I did a fairly good job of explaining the point.

“God didn’t speak to you.”

This statement is something that I have found myself being able to dismiss very quickly. When I first began to hear God speak to me, I was constantly doubting myself, doubting my judgement, and doubting my sanity. That last doubt might make you think I am crazy, but I believe I have a duty to share what I have been through, how God has saved my life, and what I have learned as I have studied the Bible and asked God for wisdom.

There are many online resources that explain how to know when God is speaking to you. I know that said resources exist, as I have come across many of them as I have battled with doubt and confusion about what God wants me to do. I could write a lot more about how one can know if God is speaking to him (I have plans to write more about this topic), but I am going to share the most important tips that I have learned, and have worked in my life:

  1. If God speaks to you, you will know. You might not fully understand it at first, but you will understand it eventually.

  2. If you think God has spoken to you, but the message would go against what the Bible says, God did not speak to you.

  3. If you do not have peace in your spirit, it is not from God. (There are instances where God will tell you to do something that you feel nervous about. That is not what I am talking about here).

  4. Compare what you think God has spoken to you to His Word. James 3:17  is my favorite verse for discerning when wisdom has come from God. Read my writing about James 3:17 here.

  5. Pray about it. Ask God to confirm what you feel, ask Him for clarity, and trust Him to answer your prayers.

  6. Seek advice from a more mature Christian. Ask them what they think.

  7. If you think God has spoken to you, write what you heard down and pray about it.

“You are crazy. You are hearing things.”

I could be hearing things, or incorrectly attributing something to God, but I am not crazy. Whenever the devil tries to make me feel like I am crazy or something, I find myself rereading what I have written lately. I keep a journal, and I write a lot for this website, so there is plenty of stuff to read. Do I sound like a crazy person, or does my writing show a man who is in complete control of himself and his mind? What have I been doing, what I have I been thinking, what have I been saying lately? Is there any other reason why I might be considered crazy?

If you are like me, you can shrug off this lie. You are not crazy. We all make mistakes. As you grow in your faith, you will learn how to correctly identify when God is speaking and when He is not.

“If God was going to do something, why hasn’t He done it yet?”

Why did God create spiders? Why was I born on September 5, instead of the sixth or the seventh? Why is my hair brown? Why do I ask so many questions? What right do I have to question God and His timing? The question you should ask yourself is, “Did God say it?”

If God says something, it will happen. God is always faithful, He does not lie, and He does not change. If God said something will happen, then it will be so. God is not bound by time, nor is He bound by anything else. There are things that we will never know about God, but that is just the way things are. God’s timing is perfect. He is never early, He is never late, He is always on time.

If something has not happened and you are confused, pray and ask God to clarify things for you. Ask others to pray for God to speak to you. Study your Bible and wait on God.

For some more information about may take longer to do something than we expected Him to, read my essay about Deuteronomy 7:22.

“That miracle was not that special.”

First of all, this is a lie that the devil uses when he knows that he has lost. Whenever God does something wonderful, whenever He does something that makes me look at Him with more love and fear than ever before, the devil loves to try and downplay what happened. Miracles are incredibly helpful for building our faith, and the devil knows this. When God does something, it is undeniable that God did it.

Given how the devil cannot convince you that what you saw was not from God, he will try to make you think that the miracle you witnessed was not as special as it seemed to be. This is another way that the devil looks to isolate people, to make us feel like we are the only ones experiencing this, that we are not special, that God would not do what He said He would do, and so on.

These are lies, and they come straight from the pit of Hell.

“Your situation will never change.”

This lie is absolutely absurd. Aside from God, I cannot think of anything that never changes. Unless you are literally a plant or something, your situation will change. You will experience new things, you will grow in your faith, and things will not be the same tomorrow as they are today. Do not grow weary in your pursuit of God’s promises for your life. Trust in God, tell Him how you feel, and let Him comfort you.

“How could that possibly happen?”

Again, this question is designed to discourage us by turning our attention toward the road ahead of us, rather than focusing on the day at hand. When we walk with Christ, He will give us peace in our hearts. When we begin to walk more quickly, or when we delay, we are more susceptible to the attacks of the enemy.

If God said it, it is so.

“Do you really believe that God has spoken to you all those times?”

Just as with a friend, as we walk with God, we become used to the sound of His Voice. Just like I can hear my friend speak and know who it is, just like I can recognize his handwriting, just like I know what his face looks like, I recognize God more clearly as I grow closer to Him. I have heard my friend’s voice many times, and I know who is speaking as soon as he opens his mouth. When God speaks, I know it. I know His Voice, I know what He sounds like, and I know Him.

So, yes, I really believe that God has spoken to me all those times.

“People will think that you are crazy if you tell them all this stuff!”

Perhaps, but who cares? Am I seeking to please those around me, or do I seek to please the Lord? If God works in my life (which He does, has, and will), I will tell everybody about it. If people think that I am crazy when I talk about how God has changed my life, then so be it. God comes before all, so I do not care if people think I am crazy.

This is a lie that is designed to isolate people. You are not alone. You have experienced encounters with the same God that billions of people have had encounters with. Pray, ask for strength, and get around others who know God as well as you do.

“Things won’t be as good as you think they will be.”

When God does something, He does it in a better way than anybody else. When God says that something will happen, and that it will be wonderful, it will be more wonderful than any of us could comprehend. I try not to think about how good the future will be, as I have learned that I am incapable of understanding a tenth of how amazing God’s plan is for my life. God knows best, and I trust Him.

“The thing that you are waiting for will be stressful, and you will not know how to handle all of it.”

If God calls me to do something, if God prepares me to do something, I can trust that He has gone before me. God’s calling comes with the strength to do what He has called you to do. He calls you to be obedient, and to trust Him. Trust that God has already gone before you, prepared those who you will speak to, prepared a way for you to reach the point you must reach, and given you the ability to keep fighting for what He has put on your heart.

God will prepare you for what He has for you. Trust Him.

Introduction (Philemon)

It may seem strange that I would bother writing about Philemon, considering its brevity, as well as its apparent lack of meaning. I have r...