Christian Perspective

Encouragement

 
 

Christian Perspective

Guard the Gate


"Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore." Psalm 105:4

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Thought: Test the Spirits

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." 1 John 4:1 (KJV)

"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other:" Galatians 5:17a (KJV)

Every minute of every day thoughts battle to take possession of our minds. I was reminded of this several weeks ago when a dear friend told me something along the lines of, "You need to test the spirit and see if it's of God. If not, reject it."

Her words pierced me, and the Lord began to show me areas where I'd been giving pride, bitterness, and condemnation toward others and myself a place in my heart.

Since then, I've been thinking a lot about the need to really test the spirits continually and reject those that are not of God. A woman I knew used to say that you can't keep birds from flying, but you don't have to let them build a nest. Doubts, fears, desires, etc. will keep trying to creep into our lives--but we don't have to let them build a nest. We can test the spirits.

Sometimes the battle can be subtle. Perhaps we see sin in our lives or someone accurately points out some area we need to change. But instead of running to Christ with our sin and seeking Him to change us, we look to ourselves, beat ourselves up, and try to fix ourselves. We've just allowed a spirit of condemnation and self-reformation a place in our hearts rather than accepting the truth in a spirit of trust and dependence.

Here are a few questions to ponder: Are the thoughts I'm allowing in my mind pointing me to Christ? Are they causing me to reflect His love in my heart and life? Or are they leading me to discouragement, pride, or condemnation? Am I living in the freedom of the truth? Is the Holy Spirit controlling my actions, or have other spirits gotten in the way of Him?


Story: Guard the Gate

"Be careful who you admit," his father's warning still echoed in Peter's mind. "Many enemies will try to sneak into the city and cause trouble. You must diligently guard this gate."

At the time, Peter hadn't realized the full importance of his father's charge. Little had he dreamt then how many different applicants he'd have to review in a day--or how deceptive they would be.

At first, Peter had been most vigilant to guard the gate. He'd questioned every visitor who approached the city. But before long, he'd grown more lax. Surely it wasn't that important what entered the city, was it?

One hot summer afternoon, a man approached the gate on foot. He stopped when he saw Peter and struck up a conversation with him. Peter liked the way the man made him feel. Without thinking twice, he opened the gate.

To Peter's surprise (and secret pleasure) the man sat down next to him and continued their conversation. Quite unconsciously, Peter began allowing the man to influence his decisions of whom he let inside.

A note from his father brought him back to reality. His father! He'd neglected his father recently, hadn't he? Oh, he hadn't purposefully talked to him less, but gradually, and quite unconsciously, he'd exchanged companionship with his father for companionship with the man he'd let inside the city and his companions.

But these men were friends...or were they? As Peter looked at his new companion and his companion's friends with new eyes, he was shocked to find them enemies in disguise. He'd given the enemy a foothold within the city! Looking around with open eyes, he saw many areas the enemy had destroyed.

Peter immediately tried to rid the city of these foes. He tried reasoning them away. He tried excusing them away. He tried to make them leave by force. But he discovered it was a lot easier to let them in than to make them leave. The best he could do was to get them to hide themselves in rocks and crevices, only to reemerge at various times and places. It seemed irradiating them was a hopeless cause.

"Don't give up hope!" a true friend encouraged Peter. "Your father can rid the city of these enemies--you must go to him."

"But I've mentioned them to my father, and they're still here," he replied.

His friend gave him a piercing look that seemed to see right inside him. "Did you tell your father you couldn't get rid of them and really ask for your father's help?"

Peter blushed at the question. In all honesty, he hadn't. He'd complained to his father about the intruders, he'd used them as excuses, he'd told his father he'd get rid of them, he'd elaborated on how hard he kept trying, but he'd never come humbly and asked him to take them.

That night, Peter went to his father and handed the situation to his care. Slowly but surely, his father helped him rid the city of the intruders. It wasn't an easy process, but it was a needful one. Then came another difficult process of building up what the enemy had destroyed.

"Guard the gate," Peter's father reminded him over and over. "Enemies will keep coming all the time. Test what they say against my word. Only let in whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. And when you find enemies inside the gate, come running to me! I'll never tire of helping you shake them. I love you, Peter, and nothing can ever diminish my love for you."

I wish I could say that Peter never let any other enemies inside the gate, but that wouldn't be true. He frequently bought into the enemy's lies. But the more time he spent with his father and thinking upon his father's words, the more readily he recognized the lies, and the quicker he realized when an enemy had slipped into the city. On the other hand, when Peter didn't diligently keep the truth in his heart, the enemy found an easy entrance into the city.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23 (KJV)


Homeschool Tip: Harboring "Strangers"?!

- Cris Loop

The Lord has recently shown me I'd let "strangers" (like those in Katherine's story--ungodly thoughts and feelings) into my heart. Let me say that again, because this realization was shocking to me, I had let strangers into my heart! They didn't get there on their own--I had let them in.

This realization threatened to overcome and paralyze me. The enemy was right there ready to beat me over the head with condemnation and guilt.

Then God faithfully spoke: "Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." I couldn't change the past, but I could start taking my thoughts captive starting now. After asking the Lord how to take my thoughts captive (which was nothing more than really turning the problem over to the Lord), I proceeded to see God's great and overwhelming love being poured out to me. As I gave God my thoughts, I was able to see His grace more and more. His Words of reassuring love that He has indeed covered over ALL my sin and shame became more real. I was then able to rest in His finished work, stand back up, and trust Him to fix what I had messed up.

When you realize you've let "strangers" into your heart, don't let the realization keep you from functioning properly. Everything around you will suffer if you do. Your homeschooling efforts, your joy, your relationships with other believers--EVERYTHING (at least everything that counts)! The enemy would like nothing more than to have you keep your eyes on you, rendering you ineffective. My tip is to take your thoughts captive--and when you realize how you've failed, run into to your Father's arms and rest in His unchanging love.


Hymn/Poem: Keep My Heart

Father, you know the secret thoughts of my heart;
You know how easily from your truth I part.k
Keep my heart focused on you, I pray,
And still in your presence throughout each day.

Let my heart not be troubled by cares and worry,
But rather be at rest and mindful of eternal glory.
Show me how to reject discontent and pride,
And in your love and grace continually abide.

Oh, Lord, be keeper of my heart!
Take it today, each and every part,
That the issues of my life may flow from you,
And your precious Spirit season all I do.


Unless otherwise indicated, articles are written by Katherine Loop, 2009. Where marked Cris Loop, articles written by Christina Loop, 2009. Feel free to forward these e-mails in their entirety and to reprint/share articles by Katherine or Cris Loop within these e-mails (please include a link to our website when you do). Please contact us for information about reprinting articles written by people other than Katherine or Cris Loop so we can put you in contact with the appropriate person to ask for permission.

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Unless otherwise indicated and where marked KJV, scripture is taken from the King James Version.