False Teachers

I often get asked by my Bible study group or people that know I’m a Christian what I think of Pastor X on the TV or Pastor Y who has a large following.  Sometimes, I get asked about prominent national Bible study leaders and whether or not I listen/like/follow them.

Coincidentally, those types of questions have been lining up with our current Bible studies.  As we talk about false gospel or religion and heretical teachings, our group is diving into scripture to see what the Bible says.

Satan is always roaming around seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).  One of his greatest tactics is to manipulate Christians.  If he can get us to start interpreting scripture to meet our needs rather than the true context, he’s got a foothold.  If he can push us into sinful pride of wanting people to hear US as opposed to God, he’s gaining ground.  If he can mislead us we, in turn, can mislead others.

Because of that, the Bible teaches us that we shouldn’t be surprised at false prophets who are around us. 2 Peter 2:1 says, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

It happened in Biblical times, and it’s happening even today.  At least 180 Bible verses speak to false prophets and how they will distort the gospel and teach false doctrine.

The Bible also gives clear direction on what we are to do when we hear pastors/speakers/influencers.  We are not to just accept what they say but rather look at it, read it, study it, and examine whether it is biblical.  If it is not, we should reject that which is evil. 

Do not quench the Spirit, do not utterly reject prophecies, but examine everything; hold firmly to that which is good and abstain from every form of evil.” –1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” –1 John 4:1

One of the best ways we can recognize false teaching is to be in the Word.  I’m not talking quick devotionals that give us a pick-me-up.  I’m talking the in-depth study and understanding of God’s Word.  We need to be taking time to dive into the Bible.  It’s how God speaks to us.  I used to say that I didn’t have time, that I was too busy.  And then my pesky iPhone started giving me my weekly updates!  Learning you’ve had 5 hours of screen time during the week is obnoxious!  That’s time I could’ve stepped away from Instagram or Facebook or YouTube and spent time reading the Bible.

I would also encourage you to pray and ask that the Holy Spirit give you discernment as you prepare to hear one of these speakers.  The Holy Spirit is one of our greatest lines of defense!  We underuse Him, and the Lord gave Him to us after Jesus left so that we could have the Helper within us.

Dear friends, we live in a time where heretical teachings are prevalent.  We must be on guard and aware of those false teachers so that we do not blind ourselves into walking down a path that allows us to stray from God!  I pray that the Holy Spirit gives each of us the discernment we need to see God’s truth!

~Erin

A Good Book

As a reader, I love a good book.  There’s something about diving into a story and recreating the scene in your head.  You can imagine yourself right there in the middle of it all, helping the main character figure out what to do.  While I don’t have to have a happy ending for the books I read, I do love for it to be finished, if you know what I mean.  I like to see development of a person-who they are, what they look like, the emotions they may be feeling.  I like to see the plot, no matter if it’s happy or sad.  It’s frustrating when I start reading a book and can’t really “get into it” the way I’d like.

Because of this habit, I’ve found that I’ve more than once been irritated with not knowing more about some of the people in the Bible.  What did Rahab look like?  What happened to her after the Israelites took down Jericho?  What happened to the widow and her son who fed Elijah?  Did they have an abundance of food afterward?  How about Cornelius in Acts 10?  He had a vision and was told to send men to Joppa to fetch Peter.  Were those men guards from his regimen?  Did they think he was off his rocker?  What was their conversation like on the way to Joppa?

I’d rather have the complete story.  But here’s what I’ve learned….

It’s not the point of the story.  Do we really need to know what Rahab looked like or if she took up new residence in a nearby town or went with the Israelites?  Is it necessary for us to know what the guards going to retrieve Peter were saying to each other about Cornelius’s vision?

In today’s society, we want the grand story, beginning to end, wrapped up as a complete package.  No stone left unturned.  If we don’t have the who, what, when, where, why, how, and how much, we decide it’s incomplete.  But the reality is that we are seeing exactly what God needs us to see.

In each and every one of the people I wrote about above, you know what they all had in common?  Immediate obedience.  They followed what they were told as directed by God and they were blessed because of it.  Rahab’s family was spared destruction.  The widow didn’t starve and her son was raised from the dead by Elijah.  Cornelius and his family made Jesus their Lord and Savior and are spending an eternity in heaven. 

Why?  Because they obeyed.  As we go through this week, listen and hear God’s direction in your life.  When He tells you to do something, I challenge you to obey immediately!  Don’t wait.  Follow what He says!  What a blessing it is to obey our Heavenly Father and trust what He says is good.

“But He said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” –Luke 11:28

~Erin

The “I” in Team

As a retired military member, I’ve been to plenty of leadership trainings that make sure to remind students that there is no “I” in “Team.”  It’s a sentiment that is often repeated in the workplace and indicates that there is no one person whose contributions are greater than another’s on the team.

At my work center, I’ve often encouraged others to use “we” or “ours” in referencing programs, processes, and successes.  I am a firm believer in acknowledging superb performance of individuals, but overall, the team seems to be more successful when there is cohesive ownership.  

On my son’s baseball team, I’ve often seen the coaches acknowledge an individual’s great job in a game, but they win & lose together as a team.  They practice together as a team.  They rejoice and they are disciplined…as a team.  Not as individuals.

If the concept of “no I in team” holds true for the workplace and for a sports team, does it also hold true with the church…with the disciples of Jesus Christ? 

In terms of the twelve disciples of Jesus, outlined in the Gospels, Jesus drew together a team of men who had a few things in common, such as fishing and tax collecting, but they each had differences, such as their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.  As we walk through the New Testament, we can see that they collectively were working towards professing Jesus as the Messiah and the Savior for the sinners of the world. 

While some were praised for answering questions correctly (Peter answering “Who Do You Say I am?” in Matthew 16:17), or providing insight to others, none are raised above the others in terms of accomplishing the mission that Jesus gave them. 

While some were rebuked for betrayal (Jesus acknowledging that Judas would betray him at the Last Supper or that Peter would deny knowing him three times-John 13:21 and Mark 14:30), none of the others were raised above them in terms of accomplishing their ultimate mission.

This shows that Jesus’ leadership included acknowledging strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately He was more concerned with saving souls for eternity than praising and rebuking those on the team. Each disciple was part of the team and they were collectively being trained for a time when Jesus was no longer with them physically.  In my opinion, it’s a solid example of thereTea being “no I in team.”  

The secular leader in me wants to know if you are embracing the concept of team at work and on sports teams.  

The women’s ministry leader in me wants to urge you desperately to endorse this concept of teamwork (without acknowledging the I’s) so that we can work together on the mission we were given by Christ: to share the Gospel, to show the lost how to be found for all eternity, and to make disciples.

Does your team have an “I” on it?

~Emily

Press On

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:14 (NLT)

I recently started Invisalign orthodontic treatment. I have to wear plastic trays on my teeth 22 hours a day. They are uncomfortable, create a lisp when I talk and every time I eat or drink anything other than water, I need to take them out and brush my teeth and the trays before I put them back in. What a pain! I need to remind myself how nice it will be to have straight teeth and a pretty smile at the end of my 2 years of treatment because right now, I am not seeing any immediate reward, other than the fact that I may have lost a few pounds because the aforementioned post-eating ritual makes me think twice about whether or not a snack is really worth it. 

It can be hard to wait for a reward that seems so far in the future. Life gives us tough seasons. Sometimes even our walk with Jesus can be challenging. It’s tempting to chase instant gratification, however, these things that can satisfy us immediately are temporary. The eternal life Jesus promises is forever. Living with an eternal focus often goes against the messages we are constantly bombarded with in the world today, but let’s look at what Jesus says:

Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:27-29

I love that when Peter asked the very human question of “What’s in it for me?”, Jesus did not admonish him but instead reminded him of the reward given to all who follow. 

What can we do to continue to press on toward our heavenly prize? 

1.    Read the Bible- Staying in the word reminds us of Jesus’ love and promises. 

2.    Prayer- God wants to be in authentic relationship with us. Crying out to God when we are sad and even angry allows him to comfort us and draw us closer.

3.    Community- It’s important to have a good support network of fellow believers who can help encourage and pray for us when we are struggling. 

When you feel discouraged or find yourself asking “Is this worth it?”, remember the promises our Lord has made and the reward waiting for you at the end. Press on toward the prize of eternity in heaven. It will be so worth it.

~Sherry

Sherry Bliss Haase lives in Northern California with her husband and two teenage children. In addition to her favorite role, being a mom, she works in the finance industry as a Retirement Plan Educator. She is also writing a women’s devotional. You can read her blog at www.sherryblisshaase.com.

Kid Questions

“Do you have cancer?”

This was the question I heard a 5-year-old boy ask a balding gentleman, as I went into the aftercare building to pick up my son.

The adult responded with a chuckle and said, “No, I’ve just lost all my hair.”

My initial internal response was “what has this child seen or heard to make them instantly think bald equals cancer?”

My next response was “Thank you, Jesus, for the innocent questions of our little ones.”

Children have very few inhibitions when it comes to questioning the world around them.  They ask simply because they need understanding. They aren’t intimidated by politically correct wording or the emotions that questions may bring up.

Jesus asked a lot of questions too.  His weren’t always simple or designed for His own understanding. Most of His questions were crafted to get His followers thinking about God’s promises, about salvation, and about deliverance.  One of my favorite questions Jesus asked the disciples is “Who do you say I am?”

In several books of the Gospel, we read that Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus could have easily said, “I am the Christ.”  Instead, He challenged the disciples to answer the questions of their own heart.

Jesus taught using a questioning method of presentation. It creates a learning atmosphere where the disciples (and subsequently us) are able to interpret and deliver our own answers to questions.  This often lends itself to a longer retention of information…and a stronger belief in the answers that we declare ourselves.

Like small children asking strangers about lost hair and cancer treatments, we as Christians must ask about and interpret the world around us.  Lucky for us, if we’re in the Word, we’ll find answers!

What questions are on your mind this week?  Come to the Porch and share!

~Emily

Kid Questions