Sunday, August 8, 2010

The discernment thing, part 1

You hear this sentence often, "The Church lacks true discernment."

 Troubling. Yet, true. Not anything new.

I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you've picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby's milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God's ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong. Hebrews 5:11-14 (The Message)

Charismatics and Pentecostals used to boast of their perceived ability to discern better than their Baptists, Methodists, or any denominational brothers and sisters in Christ.

I admit that when I rededicated my life to the Lord  and received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, I thought that I, too was "all that." 

I was an engineering student attending a major university away from home and begin attending a very small church where healing, deliverance, and the gifts of the Spirit were highly celebrated. During this time, I realized that I was gifted with the ability to "see" beyond what was present or in plain sight. I wouldn't call it the gift of prophecy, but during intercessory prayer, my prayers were developing into what is known as prophetic intercession. Many years later, I recognized that I flowed more in the revelation gifts  - word of wisdom. word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits.(1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

Because I have always been a practical and logical thinker, I didn't want to get off balanced. So, I  read scriptures often. Through reading and the preached word, I got the revelation that discernment is connected to studying, reading and applying the Word of God. Reading with an understanding. Not just reading the Bible as a history book with fascinating stories.. Applying what you read to your life.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. James 1:22-24 (NLT)
And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. Ezekial 44:23 (KJV)
For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (AMP)
After several church and personal experiences that shook me up during 1985-1992, I treasured my relationship with God like He really is my best friend and confidant. I prayed to discern more accurately. To not be judgmental. To listen to His voice. To follow the Holy Spirit's nudges. To judge myself daily or regularly. To not get entangled in deception. To rid myself of modern day idols.

Looking back, I can identify why I wavered between true and fasle discernment. I noticed some key hindrances.

Here are 8 hindrances to discernment
  1. Pride (also spiritual pride or self-righteousness)
  2. Deception
  3. Unforgiveness
  4. Habitual sin
  5. Little or no understanding of the Bible
  6. Lust (any)
  7. Little or no true worship and prayer
  8. Idolatry (any)
Of course, you can think of more than eight things. I know that these eight things interfered with my discerning right from wrong, God's will and timing, or when God was speaking directly about a matter and when He was not speaking at all, but the human spirit, an evil spirit or a controlling spirit was speaking.

Have I "arrived ?" Always discerning correctly. No. I do not always get it right, but I am quicker to check my heart and listen patiently in order to discern.

Of course, properly reading and studying the Word grows you up spiritually.  Praying often and praying various types of prayers increases and sharpens your spiritual ears.

What do I mean by various types of prayers?  How can you grow in fellowship with God and hear Him speak if you only ask Him to meet your needs and desires (aka petition prayer)?

A balanced prayer life must include what I called the most neglected prayers.

Neglected Prayers
  • Praise
  • Thanksgiving
  • Intercession
  • Forgiveness/Repentance
  • Declaring His Will (Word)

I have more to say about discernment. I will save my thoughts for another blog post.

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