The Bible teaches us that true prophecy edifies the church and also exalts the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthian’s 12:3-7; and 14:3,4). However, where there are true prophetic gifts, there are also counterfeits and/or the wrong use of God-given gifts. For example, in the Scriptures we see that the prophet Balaam tried to use his gift for financial gain (Numbers 22:21-39). We see in this narrative of Balaam, that even though his motives weren’t godly, he still had a bona fide prophetic gift.
As a full-time church minister since 1981, I have had the task of observing the lives of thousands of believers. Consequently, I have come to the conclusion that there are believers in the church who say they are Christians, while, at the same time, espousing value systems that are secular. However, these secular believers are slightly different from what we may identity as a “carnal Christian,” whose ways have to do with the overt sins of the flesh and emotions (read 1 Corinthians 3:1-4). Of these two types, the secular believer, as with “secular Christianity” (which, by the way, is contradictory and, therefore, a misnomer) is more subtle because they are sugar-coated with spirituality and outward peace but have foundations of secular values.
Pain is unavoidable in this world. The primary kind of pain I am referring to throughout this article is emotional, mental and psychological. Jesus promised us that in the world we will suffer tribulation John 16:33. (Both physical and emotional in this context) There are many different reasons for pain: some pain is self inflicted, some is caused by unexpected tragedies like an accident, some is caused by the behavior of other people, some from mental and emotional trauma, some, like in the Book of Job are divine tests, and more.
a. The Bible teaches that fire is a metaphor describing three types of purging people can experience:
• The fires of testing
• The fires of evaluation
• The fires of damnation
Many men I come across are depressed and have an inordinate desire to be fulfilled in sports by vicariously living their lives through other men they set up as heroes. This is because in sports there are clear winners and losers, thus satisfying a man’s desire to conquer through mastering a skill. Also, because they feel purposeless, they need to live their lives through other men or through a team they can identify with, attempting to fill the void in their hearts.
Text: Matthew 5:4
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
For many years I wondered what this verse meant. I used to think that God wants us to feel bad for all the sin in the world and walk around depressed or sad all day. But now I believe this verse has to do with the need for us to fully face and deal with those things that hurt us. Only those who fully enter into this process of grieving over wrongs done to them, or for sin, will ever be able to process their pain to the point where they can be comforted by God.
Text: Genesis 3:16-19
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
One of the biggest challenges in life is to stay focused upon the assignment the Lord has appointed for us. In life there are many adversaries and distractions that can take you off track so that your life misses the mark. This is called “mission drift.” Perhaps most people in this world have drifted from their primary purpose and mission in life.
In this article, I am using the term “religion” to refer to man-made effort that utilizes works to please God. It is very easy to mistake being religious for having a relationship with God. All religions in the world are based on religion which is a man-made attempt to reach God. However, Christianity is supposed to involve having a genuine relationship with God (2 Cor. 13:14).