Discernment Is Needed

Proverbs 15:21 Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, But a man of understanding walks uprightly.

I may have mentioned this in earlier blogs, but several years ago I purchased my home. I was told that patio door did not lock, so they used a rod to prevent the door from opening. Quite the hassle to always remove the rod, especially when you have a dog wanting to go out, but over the years I was used to it. I even installed a chain lock from the outside when I would walk my dog at night. Then as I was sitting in my office one day, I decided to inspect the lock portion on the door to see why this was not working. Upon discerning it further, I saw that whoever put the door together didn’t install the latch correctly. It was off by 1/4 inch is all. I moved the latch, and wallah! The door locked. Mind you again, I lived in the house for almost 13 years before this discovery. I dumbly just simply allowed the previous owner’s word to be the final word.

When we view God and the things of God, there is just one trustworthy source we can rely on and it is Scripture. The example I gave above of an analogy which happens often to many when it comes to religion. Mom and Dad believed a certain way, you were told things by your grandparents or a teacher or a friend, and you accepted their word as the final word. The problem come later when and if you did not inspect what was told to you by Scripture on Judgment Day. God won’t buy the excuse “well my parents told me so, they are to blame as to what I believe”. No! The blame always will be squarely on you for the lack of discernment.

As in my example with the door, it was my fault, not the person who told me the door was broke and there was nothing I could do. I simply didn’t look. Through the years, you will hear all sorts of things on what to believe or what not to believe. Some will also say “live and let live”. This won’t get you to the promised land. Your very eternal life is at stake, so trusting other fallen sinners is the risk of this life.

I do my very best to share the Gospel, to teach from Scripture as I am being guided by the Holy Spirit. But I always tell those I am teaching, “don’t just take my word for it, discern what I said by Scripture”. Always let the Bible have the final say, not society, not a politician, not your parents, not your spouse, and not even your great hearted well meaning pastor. Always discern a teaching by the end result of Scripture. If the teaching can test out clearly, you are good to go. If not, it must be either discarded or studied more. Let God be your guide, not fallen man.

Whenever I hear a person spouting off merely talking points from a world religion, I know they have not put in the time of discernment by Scripture. Or when I hear someone using fallacies or historical evidence of what they believe, that faith too is invalid. They have done done the work to discern the actual truth in Scripture whether they do not trust God or themselves. It is usually a disbelief in God, and a belief in man is what my experience has been after talking to many on this subject.

Lastly, God will teach ANYONE. You don’t need 10 years in a seminary or even one year for that matter. Never underestimate the power of God. Upon my own rebirth, God put me on a rather fast track. There was no time to waste. I am still learning things from Him to do this day. And the big lesson I learned is just how vast the amount of false teachings are out there. Some like Jim Jones and David Koresh duped their congregation and those congregants all sadly perished because they did not test these false teachers against the truth in Scripture. Don’t make that mistake! And the worst thing you could do is to ignore this warning no matter the case. The flamboyant cult leader to the on the surface great person should never be put ABOVE Scripture in authority.

Trust God always! He will show you things you have never understood before and at that time, you will know what is a bad teaching from a good one. What should be discarded and what is helpful, all by using Scripture as the end all ultimate source for the truth!

Setbacks and Adversity

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

Life is filled with setbacks and adversity. Some are hard, some are easy, but we must always be prepared for them. I have lived through many thus far. I recall one as a junior in a high school regional championship baseball game. I played right field, and this game was especially important because it would send our team to the state tournament. The game was played right at dusk. During our practice warm ups there was a major problem. With the lights and color of the clouds I could not see the ball in the air. The coach would hit the ball, and I generally could tell how it left the bat but could not see the ball in the air until the very last second. It made me mighty nervous, because of the importance of the game I did not want to screw anything up for the seniors on the team. I didn’t say anything to anyone about not being able to see the ball, but it did prompt me to be extra focused through this extreme nervousness.

So the game started, and of course the very first batter hits a fly ball in my direction. I was already nervous because of the warmups. But this time the ball looked like a white laser beam in the sky, there was no problem seeing it. I let out a sigh of relief and ran to catch it which was routine, I thought “no problem”. As I got near to catch the ball, I opened my glove as I did a thousand times before, the ball came and in an instant it popped right out. The batter seeing this made it all the way to third base. I wanted to crawl under a rock. My worst fear was realized, a major setback. I can still see our pitcher just glaring out at me with the look of “what in the world are you doing?”. On the very next pitch to the second batter, the runner who got to third based on my error, was then thrown out. I let out another sigh of relief, no harm came from my stupid mistake. We went on to win the game and went to the state tournament.

If you played sports like this, you understand that setbacks happen in a flash, and the adversity can be a roller coaster. In life, they happen as fast at time or they can be painfully slow. Life is going good, and then bad news comes. Adversity can drain the very life out of you.

Solomon writes “a friend loves at all times”. I can think of a friend like this, and for me it was my dogs Stu, Leo, and now my dog Joby. They truly loved me at all times, good or bad. And it is that type of love which will help you get through the setbacks in life and God will work on you to see the hope from that love. With Leo, I experienced much adversity through his cancer. God taught me to hope and to trust in Him while life seemed to be spinning out of control. I was given by His love the hope to carry on after Leo’s death.

And how do you know that you truly love another? If you can imagine life without the person, you probably don’t truly love them. My answer is if you can’t imagine your life without that person, this would be what I would call “true love”. This is the epitome of God’s love. He loves His children with true love, that He could not imagine life without you. Really contemplate on this. Thus He sent His Son Jesus Christ to the Cross to redeem you from your sins. No greater love, and despite anything you do matter always to the Creator, the Almighty God!

When we have a setback in life, and if you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, just know you have a “friend who loves you at all times and a brother who was born for adversity”. So with that understanding of His love for you, hope will follow. Setbacks are just bumps on the road to hope, they happen NOT because God is punishing you, but because He is growing hope in you. He tests our resolve to grow us in faith, trust, and hope in Him.

So if you have some religious zealot ever try to tell you that the horrible circumstance you are going through is because “God is punishing you for your sins”, they could not be more wrong. If God wanted to punish you, you would have no hope left. So if you haven’t done so, place your faith in Him today! God gives an abundant amount of hope, just ask Him and He will provide it free of charge. He is right there with you in the adversity, just waiting for you to turn to Him. Things might seem bleak, the world might be turning upside down, but you will always have hope if you trust in Him!

And if God has blessed you in this life with those you can’t imagine living without, thank Him, because you just got a glimpse of God’s love for you!