The Filter of Virtue

 

filter“Delightfully loved friends, don’t trust every spirit, but carefully examine what they say[a] to determine if they are of God, because many false prophets have mingled into the world”

(1 John 4:1 TPT The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC)

I wonder over the years just how many lies and half-truths we have believed about other people just because rumors got started…or news stories got published/aired…or how many times a tale got repeated with a little “yeast” added to it in increments? How many people have had a stain permanently grafted onto their reputations because of spoken/written words which weren’t true but just a matter of conjecture? We put so much stock in what we hear or read because we put stock in what we perceive to be “reliable sources.” Unfortunately, perception, even false perception, becomes the reality to whoever buys into it. We would all do well to ask ourselves more often, when exposed to information, “But what if it isn’t…true?”

We are bombarded on all sides with too much information. It’s yet another reason why I’m spending less time around social media. I don’t want to hear the dirt on people or situations. I don’t want to have to decide, in situations which aren’t my business, whether what I hear is fact or fiction; and truthfully, fact or fiction, some things I just don’t need to know! I don’t want to hear things that violate the peace in my spirit, or invite unnecessary drama into my life–or even open doors for the enemy of my soul to have legal access. Not everything passes through the filter of Philippians 4:8: things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy.

I’m trying to be more mindful of this. I have gotten swept into believing certain things before, just because I put confidence in “they” when I heard that “they” said or say. As I gasp at how easily people buy into believing horrible things and how anger and outrage and hatred explode, I’m reminded of times when I too have believed reports that weren’t true. It’s a time to pray daily for revelation and discernment so we won’t be deceived; and it is a time to pray daily for fortitude when we could find ourselves in the crosshairs of the accuser.

Persecution and opposition will come, believers…we haven’t had to see much of it here in this country, but we need to brace ourselves for the idea of being hated for what (and Whom) we believe…and a lot of it will come through people who believe lies. Be quick to repent, and be quick to forgive. Remember that the Word says to be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…and it also says not to believe every spirit but to try the spirits to see if they be of God; but to try the spirits, because there are many false messengers in the world.

Lord, help me not to be deceived even in seemingly inconsequential things, because it never is inconsequential. Help me to shut down what I allow into the gateways to my soul–my eyes and ears. Help me to be courageous enough to tell people, “I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to know,” instead of having to try to cleanse my spirit of what I’ve allowed in. Help us not to be deceived by false messengers, and help us not to be guilty of being a relay runner of false messages by passing on what is not true.  Keep me pure in heart, in motives, in intentions, and in truth always!  In Jesus’ name…

 

Quietly Comes Our Rescuer

VoiceThe Lord said to Elijah, “Go, stand in front of me on the mountain, and I will pass by you.” Then a very strong wind blew until it caused the mountains to fall apart and large rocks to break in front of the Lord . But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a quiet, gentle sound. 1 Kings 17:11-12 NCV

I wonder how often when, faced with difficult situations, we imagine that God’s method of coming against our circumstances will be to “outdo” the noise of the enemy’s onslaught?  Do we have expectations of Him suddenly becoming loud, boisterous, angry, violent, ostentatious as He rises to our rescue?  What if we were to miss His visitation by overlooking the quiet, gentle sound that follows all the hoopla?

This particular passage of Scripture is intriguing to me, within and outside of its context.  Elijah had hit a spiritual crisis after his Mount Carmel moment.  The prophet who’d called down fire from heaven was now running scared from a wicked ruler who vowed to kill him.  In his despair, Elijah perceived himself to be the “only one left,” and he expressed his feelings of frustration and utter aloneness to God.  God revealed to him Who He is, by revealing to Elijah what He isn’t!

Now, God’s ways are so above our own, I don’t presume to know why He decided to appear to Elijah thus.  We know that in some other Bible stories, the Lord did appear in a loud and frightening fashion; and yet, this particular time, His quietness was a stark contrast to the roar of what preceded Him.

All that we ever need to place our trust in is His sheer faithfulness.  What He has promised in His Word, He will bring to pass.  If we try to predict or even manipulate His method of coming to our rescue, we will go chasing every wild and sensational “noise” around us.  How many people out there simply cannot bear not to be in the loop…and they step beyond the boundaries God has set.  We see scores of people nowadays flocking to mediums and psychics to give them a “when” and a “how;” and practices which are despicable to a holy God are increasingly gaining popularity on television.  Those who seek rogue answers to what He has not yet chosen to reveal operate in the polar opposite of faith:  fear.  Fear can drive one to the point of rebellion against the only One Who can truly help.  We can never sidestep our Creator and get a good result!  Knowing our fascination with appearances, the enemy is more than willing to send his deceptions to us in the big, bold, underscored—and most of all, instantaneous— “signs” that we seek.  Oh, how we need to clear our heads of our expectations and just WAIT ON THE LORD.

Our Father has granted access, through His Son, for us to approach His throne boldly in our time of need!  Even when our feelings are carnal, fearful, flawed, doubtful, or angry, He allows us to pour our hearts out to Him.  As we invite Him into our every day lives, and develop relationship with Him through daily interaction, we also establish the deep mutual trust that enables us to communicate honestly with God.  It is that regular communication that enlightens us to His nature.  That regular communication also teaches us to know that God doesn’t react.  He responds.  He responds to FAITH.

Don’t forfeit your miracle because it appears to be too simple to be from the Lord!  God doesn’t have to prove Himself bigger than our problems, stronger than our enemy.  He doesn’t fight noise with more noise.  When you are in a bad situation, and the chaos is deafening, you may surmise that He will show up in a big booming voice and command the storm to be still.  That’s not the way He does it!  When we read of Jesus calming the storm, it doesn’t say that He screamed out, “Peace, be still!”  He spoke it.  There was no alarm in His voice, no argumentative tone.  It wasn’t the WAY He said it; rather, it was WHO said it.

You may be in dire straits today, heart pounding from anxiety.  You may be looking at a clock or calendar, a financial statement or a medical report which demands something you can’t give.  Your child may have gotten into some trouble that can’t be negotiated away.  You may love someone who has fallen into addiction’s cruel trap, and it may make you feel powerless to help.  You may even feel like crying out, “God, where ARE You?!!”  Stop where you are.  Take a deep breath.  If tears need to fall, let them fall.  He is touched by the feeling of your infirmities!  Hebrews 4:15 Says it like this:  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  The word for infirmities in the Greek is astheneiais…and it encompasses more than mere physical impairment.  It is defined as feebleness (of mind or body); by implication, malady; morally, frailty — disease, infirmity, sickness, weakness.  Whatever area of your mind or body contains a frailty, He has it covered because He’s been there, done that!   Because Jesus survived the experience without failing His Father, you too have hope.  Think of Mary, who, after lamenting her brother Lazarus’ untimely death and Jesus’ absence, counters her emotional outburst with profound faith:  “I know, Lord, that EVEN NOW, even after it’s too late in the natural to reverse what has happened, You can raise him from the dead!”

Pray with me:  “Heavenly Father, You know all things already, so I stand before you without pretense.  You see my dilemma.  (Go ahead, be specific with the Lord now about what’s troubling you.)  Your Word tells me that You are all-knowing.  You also know that when the tempter attacks me in weak areas, the struggle to remain strong is more difficult.  I roll my works over onto You now.  I surrender my desire to fix what’s wrong by my own might…I already know it’s beyond my ability, but I also surrender that “need” to be in control.  No man can pluck out of Your hand what’s been committed to Your care, so I cast my cares in this situation upon You now.  I receive Your help.  I allow You to lift my shoulder from the burden!  I allow You to do what You know needs to be done in order to make right what is wrong.  Whatever You require of me, I determine to be obedient.  If You say that I must change something about myself, my habits, my associations, my affections, I surrender those to You as well.  If You should will to change ME instead of overtly changing my situation, then I ask for Your grace to embrace change, knowing that all things work together for good if I love You and am called according to Your purpose.    Thank You for hearing me.  Thank You for even those times when You answer in a quiet, unheralded way.  Your answer may not be noisy and big and grandiose…but I eagerly await the “Peace, be still,” if You should choose to merely whisper the remedy and bring it to pass!  I commit to wait upon You, to trust and to faint not.  Whatever You choose to do, please take Your liberty now, in Jesus’ name.”