Archive for December, 2010

Reflection: Have you tested your spirit today?

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Several weeks ago, I had forwarded “googled” material on “Testing the Spirits”. Perhaps it isn’t surprising then that, of late, I have been repeatedly challenged to test the spirits of others and of my own.

Coyle Wylie (http://www.creationists.org/how-to-test-the-spirits.html) teaches that “behind every prophet is a spirit. The great question is does the Spirit of God or an evil spirit lead this teacher. Before we trust any teacher, we must “test the spirits.””

But why must we test the spirits? Perhaps the simplest answer is because we exist, we affect many of those around us. We live in families and we live in communities. Although we may attempt to live a reclusive life, we still are surrounded by a few who we interact with. I believe how we react and interact with another is determined by which spirit we submit to.

Does that mean we could be possessed by evil spirits? Depending on what we have been engaged in (ie: ouiji board, palm readers, occult and the like), there is a possibility, but we don’t need to be possessed to be led by an evil spirit. Have you had anyone remark that you are mean spirited? Perhaps that in itself is a warning sign that an mean spirit has tempted you and because you were in a vindictive mood, you chose to follow that spirit. By definition, a mean spirited individual “has or is characterized by a malicious or petty spirit.” Scary isn’t it?

John 1:13-15 teaches about temptation…“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one: but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. The desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full grown brings forth death.”

A few verses from Colossians 2:18-19 of the Bible struck me during my quiet time yesterday morning.

“Do not allow yourself to be condemned by anyone who claims to be superior
… because of special visions and
… who insists on false humility and
… the worship of angels.

For no reason at all,
… such people are all puffed up by their human way of thinking
… and have stopped holding on to Christ,
… who is the head of the body.

Under Christ’s control the whole body is nourished and held together by its joints and ligaments
… and it grows as God wants it to grow. “

The verses continue to speak to me this morning. After extensive prayer and reflection, I have began to sense the Father prompting me to use these verses to test the spirit of others, but also to use them to gauge my own. Have I claimed to be superior over another? Have I insisted I was humble when my actions spoke differently? Have I puffed myself up and have I stopped holding on to Christ?

Many a times when my spirit is broken, the Father reminds me of Psalm 139:23 – 24…”Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked (hurtful) way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Although I fall repeatedly each day, I continue to experience freedom because I choose to go before the Father and I also exercise my privilege to go for the Sacrament of Confession. As Jeff Cavins teaches, every sacrament is an encounter with Christ.

Have you tested your spirit today?

God bless,

Melissa – December 18, 2010

p.s. – May the powerful words sung by Rebecca st. James in the following link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NlbJKbCn54) entitled Psalm 139 sung beautifully by Rebecca st.James bring healing to your spirit.

REFLECTION: What are you discerning?

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

I received a book entitled Spiritual Discernement by Watchman Nee when my cousins visited this (Canadian) Thanksgiving.  The title intrigued me, but I had set it aside for lack of time.  The book had been sitting on the ledge for almost 2 months and yet today, I couldn’t leave for my quiet time without it.

The Father continues to amaze me!  Spiritual Discernment is exactly what the Father has been walking me through these past few weeks and today, my intellectual and experiential understanding has been increased by Watchman Nee’s teachings!  I could have continued to ignore the book as I walked by, but the Spirit was prompting…

http://www.spirithome.com/discrnmt.html explains…”Spiritual discernment is calling on the Holy Spirit to lead or give direction on a matter. It is how the Spirit shows the church or its people what God wants them to do and be.”

“Discernment is more than just a skill. Discernment is a gift from God before it is anything else. Yet there are clearly skills you can put to use when using your gift, and you can become better at it through training and experience.”

“Discernment is more than just a process. Even for the most ‘material’ or ‘nitty-gritty’ matters, there is a Spirit at work nudging us, leading us, even pulling us by the nose ring. Then again, even for the most ‘spiritual’ matters, there are disciplines, methods, processes, means, and tools which the Spirit can work through to help us discern rightly. Discernment isn’t usually a sudden zap from beyond, but something which emerges from hard work and close attention.   Learn to discern. Yearn to discern.”

Through the passing of time, numerous advice are given to us by family, friends and the media.  Have you noticed that we are able embrace some advice while we immediately discard others?  Have you pondered why?  In 1949, Watchman Nee taught…”The godly will give words heard careful consideration, even thinking according to the speaker’s thought; yet they will never compromise…  But in the end, the godly will pay more attention to the speaker’s spirit than to his thoughts and reasoning; for they realize that logic may sound right but the person’s spirit can be wrong.” 1 Is this what you have done?

Watchman Nee delves further…”Our ability to know the spirit in another person does not come from books, nor from the experiences of older saints, but from personal dealings with God.  It may be that you sense somethng moving in another’s spirit and feel uneasy about it; yet you fail to know why it is so.  This is because the spiritual judgement you may have acquired thus far is inadequate.  But if you have been dealt with God in such condition sufficiently, you will then be able to pinpoint the cause.”

“Touching another’s spirit and the ability to tell why are two different things.  You need to point out the sin committed and assess the cause of the trouble.  If God has thoroughly judged me and disciplined me, then I have learned before Him that such and such a spirit is an expression of self-love, pride or jealousy.   And so, as soon as a person shows self-love or pride, I know the case and am able to judge.”

“We need a workable spirit by which to diagnose another’s spirit.  Our spirit learning should therefore be broad, in that we ourselves need to be widely judged.  The more dealings we receive before God, the more discernments we will have.  Oftentimes, we can indeed recognize people’s faults, yet we cannot help because our own dealings are not thorough enough.”

“If you have learned deeply with respect to the lesson of pride, you will instantly detect the rise in yourself of any tiny self-satisfaction or self-glory; you know at once that you want people to pay attention to you:  your pride draws people’s notice and you are well satisfied with yourself.”

“Spiritual insight is different from simply picking out faults in yourself.  You must not just sense it, you must also be able to explain it.  How much sin the church allows to remain depends on what measure of sin you permit in your own life.  Should the most hidden sins in you be judged, you have learned deeply.”

“In the case of weeping, it is because of self-love, because of pain, or because of being broken by God?  Weeping is a sign of weakness, we weep because we are beaten.  Some people do not know how to weep.  This is due to their lack of feeling.  The most difficult group of Christians is that of those who have never been poured from vessel to vessel.  They have never been submitted, have never bowed down, have never been softened.  Everything which happens has to gratify their hearts.  They cannot endure the tiniest frustration.  You therefore know that such people have received little grace, and hence you cannot commit any church affairs to them.  The cross has not worked in their lives.  Bad temper in them is due to either pride or self-love.  Nevertheless, if you yourself have received dealings in such areas, you will be able to deal with them with spiritual discernment.”

“A person with much discipline but little learning is a hard person.  He is unable to yield.  he has dealings but no lessons learned, much discipline yet no good results.  But if much discipline is coupled with a tender spirit, you should expect to see much result.  Yet strangely, the spirit is still poor.  The probable reason is that people despise things spiritual.  Furthermore, if the spirit is tender and there is not the belittlement of spiritual things and yet there is still the lack of fruit, then this you realize is the lack of the supply of God’s word.”

“So, to be useful in discernment requires that 1) you know how to use your spirit and 2) you know how to help others.  We need to recognize the source from where things come; otherwise we shall be deceived.”2

Powerful, isn’t it?

What are you discerning today?

God bless,

Melissa

Footnotes:
1.
p23; The Godly Have a Tender Spirit – notes from a message given on April 11, 1949.
2. pp 29-31; How to Diagnose (or Discern) – Date unknown.

order from: 11515 Allecingie Pkwy; Richmond, Va 23235 (www.c-f-p.com)

– Philip and Rosita, thank you SO MUCH for the book!


REFLECTION: Thank you????!!!!????

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Web definition defines GRATITIDE as “a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation”.  Have you pondered as to why we should express our thankfulness and appreciation?  I have… especially this morning.

Often times I am able to give and not expect anything in return.  However, when I am not feeling well and I find a kitchen in chaos because one or two assumed they could help themselves to their meal without cleaning after themselves, the frustration begins.  Have you noticed that when this happens, the lack of gratitude of many others in the community also come to the surface?

Through the years as I participated in street ministry, I do not believe I have encountered one who had forgotten to say “thank you” and/or “God bless you.”  The eve of my first walk with our Street Mom, Ellen Shonsta, will always remain with me.  It was Valentine’s Day and we were distributing socks and handmade cards and candies tucked into ziploc bags.  I had just given one ziploc bag to a teenager and he mentioned that he couldn’t eat candies, but asked if he could take the beautiful card that was within.  He then returned the bag and requested that I give it to another who could appreciate the candies.  (Can you imagine this?  And this was his own words!!!)  Another, who had received a pair of woolen socks, returned it and asked if he could have a cotton pair instead.  He extensively apologized for being picky and explained that he was allergic to wool.  By the end of the evening, I was no longer walking on planet earth, but I was literally floating.  I was SO elated and moved by the gratitude that was given.

In all honesty, I had never encountered such well mannered kids and I was surprised to have found them on the streets!  I had become so accustomed to the kids in our community who had everything they needed and wanted.  These were the ones who failed to express or realize the need for gratitude.

Scarecity = Gratitude ?
Abundance = indifference / lack of gratitude ?

Is there a true correlation there?  Jesus says, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them“. Matt 5:3  By this, I don’t believe Jesus implies that everyone has to be financially poor, but instead, I believe He encourages us to take on the positive qualities of the “poor”… to be humble and meek and to turn to Him for our every need.  I believe this is what many living in the poverty line have done… and haven’t you noticed that many in the third world countries are happier than those living in abundance?

What does excessive abundance do to us?  I believe it increases the temptation to indulge in greed and self-centeredness.  I also believe it brings us to the mentality that the world “owes” us or we “deserve” everything we have and so our need to express our gratitude to the One who has blessed us abundantly is forgotten.

Have you noticed that many of those who face terminal illnesses have a radical change in their lives and they begin to treasure their lives more than ever?  Ask depression survivors who have been plagued with darkness and extreme mental oppression and who had been repeatedly tempted by suicide how they view life now.  Ask others who have been given a second chance in life how they live their lives.  I believe the response will be unanimous and the majority will say that they now live their life to the full.  Why?  Perhaps it is because they have tasted loss and have peacefully embraced that reality in their lives and they know that they themselves and/or any other human, other than God, cannot bring internal peace and healing.  Through losses, many have learned gratitude.

As many wake each morning, many fail to realize and recognize that our eyes open automatically, our hearts pump instanteneously, we breathe freely, our organs function healthily and independently…  Are these automatic body functions our rights and do we deserve to have them?

I wonder how many of us then take some time to thank God for these gifts of abundance.  My prayer is that many will not wait for a season of deprivation, but instead, choose to thank God now for the abundance He has given.

Is it your time to say “thank YOU”?

God bless,

Melissa