Tag Archives: discernment

Getting Our Eyes in the Right Place

Higher perspectiveThis is a time when possessing spiritual understanding is a key factor for effective intercession and maintaining our inner peace. What is really happening around us, and what does God want to do about it?

A few days ago, I dozed off during prayer and had a split-second dream. It was very simple, and most of the revelation I gained was by looking into it further and inquiring of the Lord. Here’s how it went:

I saw a handful of pebbles being tossed into a mud puddle.

Not much to go on there! But I know that when I doze off in prayer, the quickie dreams I have are usually from the Lord, so I thought upon the dream and asked Him for understanding. Pretty soon, I was seeing more:

I could tell I was on a downward incline, looking toward the mud puddle. I now realized the pebbles had been tossed from behind me, but I didn’t see the person who tossed them. 

As I asked the Lord for the interpretation, He said, “I’m trying to get your attention. I’m back here. I’m behind you.” I then remembered that before I dozed off I had been praying about some very serious national events taking place, as well as troubling personal concerns. As I continued to ponder the dream, I realized that the mud puddle represented all those cares I had been bringing before the Lord. I had been looking downward, into the muck, instead of having my eyes fastened on Jesus, Who was above me on the slope. He was letting me know that He was there with me, behind the scenes, and that I needed to get my attention back on Him.

By throwing the pebbles into the mud puddle, He was also indicating that He was tossing His input into the mess I was praying about. Now, that’s a lot of revelation to get out of what started with, “I saw a handful of pebbles being tossed into a mud puddle.” The key was peering into what I had seen and patiently inquiring of the Lord what it all meant. He supplied the rest.

I have drawn on that dream in the days which have followed, reminding myself to look up toward the Lord, rather than focusing on the current muck we’re dealing with.

There are many voices harping insistently at us to focus on the circumstances, but we must put our hands over our ears and quit listening to them. Some of those bombarding voices are from the news media. Personally, I do not waste much time watching or reading editorial news. Most of it is not in sync with the Spirit of God, so why bother?

There are also certain prophets who have a tendency to release fear, doubt, and outright panic into God’s people — and that bothers me. The basic message goes like this:

“All this terrible stuff that is happening is the work of the devil.” [Yep! So far, so good.] “PRAY, saints, PRAY! Because if you don’t pray hard enough and long enough, the devil is going to WIN and we will LOSE!” [Translate that, God will lose.]

The message is not one of victory, but of fear. It dishonors the Lord by implying that God and the enemy are equally capable of winning the conflict. It also places all the burden — and blame — upon intercessors’ shoulders. Sadly, we’re buying into it. But the truth still remains: the battle is the Lord’s. We must not forget that. Ever.

Yes, pray. But don’t pray out of the panic these misguided prophets or your favorite news commentator are trying to create in you. Ask the Lord to give you His counsel, and pray what He says. We all need to calm down a bit so that we can hear Him.

Also remember that no matter what the current crisis is, the Lord is throwing His input into it, just like He was casting the pebbles into the mud puddle in my dream. Don’t look down the slope at the problems. Look up, behind you, where the Lord is standing, unruffled by what we see in the natural. Why? Because He knows what He is going to do about it.

Yes, the devil is unleashing havoc, but the Lord of Hosts is pulling the strings behind the scenes. He strategically uses what the enemy intends for evil to bring about righteous changes. This is God’s pattern, and we can look to Him with confidence that He will accomplish His purposes as we pray.

Do pray diligently. Just do it from the place of knowing Father’s heart, asking for His clarity of discernment. And do it without fear, knowing He is in control, and there are many of us out here praying along with you.

He will have His way.

________________________________

intercessor handbook

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercessor questions

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Discerning the Principles of God

Christian ethicsKnowing which principles in God’s Word to apply to given situations can be tricky. If we do not get our application from the Holy Spirit, we can end up speaking or acting in the flesh.

We see conflict over how to walk out the Word all the time. While some things are very clear-cut in Scripture, others are not. Hence, people frequently misuse the Bible to support their opinion or what they want to do. Believers really seem to struggle with this. It comes out loud and clear in real-life conversations. People are willing to fight to the death over their opinion, using Scripture to back it up – often erroneously.

An example recently in the news was the issue of separating children from their parents at the border. Somehow, that became a fight between those who wanted to apply the Romans 13 “obey the law” principle and those who were more concerned about the “compassion and caring for the helpless” principle.

How do we figure out which principle to apply and when? Like with so many other things, it is about discernment — in this case, discovering God’s heart case by case. That may sound like situation ethics, but it is not.

Situation ethics, as defined at Wikipedia, “takes into account the particular context of an act when evaluating it ethically, rather than judging it according to absolute moral standards.” Sympathy toward so-called mercy killing is one example of where situation ethics will take us. God’s moral standards, however, do remain eternally absolute, so we can’t bend those for our convenience or personal desires, no matter how convincing our logic may be.

Many decisions and viewpoints do not involve violating an absolute moral standard. For those, there can be multiple principles in Scripture to be considered. We need to find out, for each set of circumstances, which principle is the correct one to apply.

The apostle Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 gives us a clue as to how this works: “And this is the trust we have through Christ toward God: we are not sufficient in ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God, Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament — not of the letter [of the law], but of the Spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

We are not competent through our intellect alone to discern how to apply the written Word of God. When we try to do that, we will often miss the mark. Instead, we must ask the Holy Spirit to illumine His Word and lead us to correct solutions. This is certainly part of what “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) is about.

Jesus frequently shocked the religious leaders of His day by doing and saying things which they viewed as flagrant violation of God’s commands. He took them to task about their rigid understanding of the law and showed them what God’s intent was in it. In the process, He challenged them to look into their heart attitudes. The religious leaders, not understanding that they were contending with God Himself (Who certainly would have known what His own Word said), thought Jesus was a dangerous heretic.

So, how do we correctly discern and apply God’s principles? It requires asking Him for His input, which can take time to receive. We need to be careful not to express opinions too quickly, but to seek His counsel first. We can consider what other believers are saying, and ask God to give us His input on whether their take is correct. I often ask, “Lord, what about this? Will You give me something from Your Word which speaks to it?” Then I wait for a thought from the Scriptures to come to mind.

I also measure whatever principle I am weighing against 1 Corinthians 13 — the love test. If we are applying the Bible correctly, it will not violate other parts of itself, such as this chapter.

The Lord is most willing to help us discern His principles correctly. He has promised, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask it of God, Who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Our part is to wait upon Him patiently, expecting that He will truly help us. The more we are willing to do this, the more we will become skilled at correctly discerning and applying His Word.

 

The Names of God, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

A Newsletter of Sorts …

I have not written for a while, and there is a reason. My elderly mother has needed a lot of help over the last year, and especially since 2018 began.

In March, Mom had a scary health episode, which made it necessary to place her in a nursing home. Since then, I’ve been focusing most of my time and energy on getting her settled in her new home, pulling her finances together, and disposing of her house and other possessions.

Through all of this, we have seen the hand of God upon her and upon the timing of all that has taken place. Mom’s health has improved, and she is adjusting extremely well to this new chapter in her life — all of which I see as a miracle for her and us.

I hope to get back to writing in the next few weeks, but just wanted to connect with our Out of the Fire readers a little in the meantime, to let you know I am still here and to share a few thoughts and updates.

First, the updates:

For those who have elementary-aged children, our Character Building for Families manuals are on sale in the U. S. now through May 15. (Saving money is always good!) They are a simple and enjoyable way for families to grow together in Jesus. Some families use them as their homeschool Bible curriculum, some as family devotions. I hope you will take a look.

Encouragement from God's WordI have updated our book, Encouragement from God’s Word. It now has an additional chapter and a beautiful new cover. It is a topical collection of reassuring Bible verses (KJV) which I collected while going through a particularly tough time in my life. I will be forever grateful for what the Lord showed me about His faithfulness during that season, and I hope this book will bless you as well. The links are to Amazon, but it is also available at many other online bookstores.

dream interpretationWe have a new audio resource for you — Hearing God Through Your Dreams. This was a live workshop we did recently, and it’s now available as an mp3 or CD set. There is an optional study guide, too.

This teaching gives you the keys for understanding what God is speaking to you while you sleep. If you were not able to attend in person, this is the next best thing!

____________________________________

A few short thoughts:

At the beginning of 2018, the Lord spoke to me that the ability to discern is much on His mind for His children. It will become increasingly imperative for all of us to effectively exercise the discerning of spirits in the days ahead.

We often think of this gift as the ability to know when an evil spirit is behind afflictions or perplexing situations. That is true, but I believe it also encompasses recognizing the difference between flowing with the Holy Spirit and operating in one’s natural understanding — both in ourselves and other people.

I wrote on this a few months ago, in my series, Discerning Between Soul & Spirit, but it is still much on my heart, so perhaps we will explore it more in days to come. Keys to Increasing in Discernment is another series which may help you.

I have been meditating on 1 Corinthians 2 for several months now, and the Lord is (once again) speaking to me about discernment through it. He talks about “the hidden wisdom” of God, and that, while we cannot discover or discern this wisdom on our own, by His Spirit He has “freely given us all things” to understand. We have “the mind of Christ,” and we can access the deep things of God as we step over from our intellect into the realm of the Spirit. It is almost as if there are parallel worlds available to us: the world of the Spirit and our lesser, natural world. We can choose which one we live in.

Finally, recently the Lord assured me, “The righteous shall fare well in the days ahead.” I sensed that this meant that whether things are going well on the earth or not, He is personally seeing to the welfare of those who are His own. We can take courage in knowing that He is attentive to our every need, even if all we see with our natural eyes continues to shake. He has us tenderly covered with His protective hand.

That’s a good note to end on.

Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 2)

Each of us must make daily choices of whether we will think according to the soul or spirit. We have to decide whether to agree with the soulish viewpoints of others, or whether to refuse them in favor of the Spirit. As I said last time, besides secular movers and shakers, some Christian leaders who carry a great deal of influence are speaking from the soul, rather than the Spirit.

We must learn to recognize whether what we are listening to is originating with soul or spirit. Once we know how to identify which it is, we are well on our way to understanding how to respond to it.

The answer is simpler than we might suspect: it is wrapped up in the Word of God.

For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit … and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.  — Hebrews 4:12, 13

Part of the reason believers are so easily led about by soulish influencers is because the majority of us are not well-grounded in the Bible. When we continually eat from God’s Word, we are nourished by the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, counsel, and truth. He becomes the strongest Influencer in our lives. Therefore, when we come into contact with even the most convincing voices, a red flag pops up inside warning that something isn’t right. Colossians 3:15 refers to it as the peace of God ruling (like a judge or umpire) in our hearts. We know in our spirit-man whether something we are being told is right-on or off-kilter.

Do you want to keenly discern between what is of the soul and what is of the Spirit? Here are three practical steps to get you there:

1. Fill yourself with the living, powerful, sharp Word of God. It will help you discern whether to reject or accept the voices of other people. Even more importantly, it will help you quickly discern what is soulish within your own thinking.

2. Pray for greater wisdom and discernment. God wants us to have these qualities even more than we desire them for ourselves. That’s why He encourages us in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all men liberally and without reproach, and it shall be given to him.” When the red flag pops up inside of my spirit, if I am not immediately certain why it is there, I ask God to bring to mind a Bible verse to help me know why. He is faithful to do that.

You can also form a habit of frequently asking God to reveal to you His perspective through the inner voice. As we wait upon the Lord, listening for Him, He gives us understanding far beyond ourselves — whether it is about current issues, teaching we have heard, or personal relationship challenges.

3. Once you have discerned that someone is consistently speaking from the soul, shut your ears to that. Those of us with inquiring minds have a tendency to listen to what people say, even when we know they are off. It’s a curiosity thing. We hope we can “eat the chicken and leave the bones.” Unfortunately, even when we know the truth, if we keep on absorbing teaching or opinions which are not right, those ideas inevitably start to stick to us, even though we don’t want them to. It’s best to shut them out.

Does this mean we should expose to everyone else that So-and-So is coming from a soulish perspective? I don’t think so. Feeling the need to expose can quickly develop into alignment with the devil,  who is the accuser (Revelation 12:10). Just shut your own ears to it, and let the Holy Spirit deal with the other person in His way and time. Focus on talking about Jesus and His qualities, rather than what’s wrong somewhere.

To recap, if we want to discern correctly and be led by the Holy Spirit, rather than by natural-minded thinking, we can hone that ability by

  • Feeding on the Bible, letting its truths influence what we think
  • Seeking God continually for greater wisdom and discernment, so that we are not fooled
  • No longer subjecting ourselves to the words of an influencer once we determine that he or she is speaking from a soulish perspective.

Next time, I would like to examine how Hebrews 4:12, 13 can help us in the areas of prayer and prophecy.

Previous: Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 1)
Next: Discerning (Part 3) — The Prophecy Connection

intercessor workshop training

Yes, You CAN Be an Intercessor! (CD Set or mp3)
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 1)

soul spirit balancing actThe phenomenon of social media has brought to the forefront a problem we have in Christianity: our inability to discern whether shared ideas are coming from the soul or spirit. In this series, we will look at what we can do to keep from buying into and spreading soulish opinions. We will also look at how discerning between soul and spirit assists us in prayer and prophecy. Our goal should be to operate more consistently from the spirit than the soul.

“Soul,” as I will be using the term here, refers to natural-minded thinking: what comes of intellect and logic alone. “Spirit” refers to the part of us which is able to connect and commune with God, to understand His ways. God has given each of us a soul, made up of our mind, will, and emotions. The soul in itself is not bad — but because sin has marred it, if the soul is left to itself, it can come to very wrong conclusions. It needs to be ruled over and assisted by our spirit.

Being soul-dominated is not limited to indulging in a sinful lifestyle. Having a soulish mentality can also lead us to self-righteously champion Bible truths on a purely intellectual level, thinking that we have the counsel of God, but missing the mark by a mile. My pastor referred to this as applying truth based on the tree of knowledge of good and evil, rather than on the tree of life (Genesis 2:17; 3:1-7; 3:22-24). It is possible to be right, and yet not be righteous.

An example of soulish thinking I frequently see is Christians justifying and even encouraging unkind speech and actions. The argument goes something like this:

Jesus was not “nice” in how He spoke to the Pharisees. He even called them names. So, as a Christian of righteous principle, I am free to “tell it like it is” (translation: be mean) in how I talk to and about people. I am just doing what Jesus did — calling out hypocrites and Pharisees.

The “Pharisees” referred to are usually believers who do not see things from their viewpoint — and of course, theirs is the right one! There’s a problem with this mindset, however. It is just as pharisaical as those it attacks. And if we agree with it, we’ll find ourselves thinking, “Yeah! Give it to ’em good!” But here’s where the difficulty lies: we are not all-knowing, as God is. Jesus could clearly see what was in the Pharisees’ hearts, while we do not have that advantage. All the facts aren’t known to us, so we can easily misunderstand people’s motives.

The Pharisees were legalists. They operated completely in the soul realm, according to their intellectual knowledge of the Scriptures. Mercy? They had none. Compromise? They felt comfortable with their own. They just didn’t approve of other people’s versions. Jesus, on the other hand, always listened to and moved with the Holy Spirit. His purpose in rebuke was not to condemn the Pharisees, but to radically stir up them and those they held in bondage to see their desperate need for a Savior.

Colossians 4:6 counsels us, Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every man.” Salt with no grace irritates and burns. But Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He knew how to answer every man, in every situation. He did it with redemption uppermost in His mind.

Whether realizing it or not, the soul-motivated person accuses for selfish reasons — to maintain his own comfort, to get his way, to build up himself by putting down others, or to gather a following. He assumes he knows the motives of the person he condemns. However, the Spirit-led person, like Jesus, is motivated by a goal of redemption.

On the surface, opinions or arguments coming from the perspective of the soul can be pretty convincing — especially when crafted by someone who is skillful with words. Well-presented logic appeals to our natural mind. Unfortunately, some Christian leaders with large Internet platforms are speaking from the soul, not the Spirit, and because they have such weighty influence, it is easy to accept what they say unquestioningly — and then parrot it to our own circles of influence.

Why does any of this even matter? First of all, because if we speak in agreement with soulish things, it is a terrible witness. Nonbelievers around us recognize that we are not speaking like the Jesus we say we represent. And for those of us who function as intercessors, if we do not correctly discern soul and spirit, we can easily become entangled in praying from erroneous perspectives brought on by unquestioningly accepting whatever we are told by people of influence.

So, how do we discern soulish thinking and avoid it? We’ll talk about that next time.

Next: Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 2)

 

Growing in the Prophetic (CD or mp3 set),
by Lee Ann Rubsam