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Luke 4:31-37 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

After leaving Nazareth, Jesus returned to the region of Galilee and went to the city of Capernium. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue and taught the people who were amazed at the authority with which he spoke.

A man in the crowd was possessed by a demon who knew who Jesus was. The demon began mocking Jesus and identified him as the Holy One of  God. Jesus told the demon to be quiet, and then commanded him to go out of the man who had been possessed. The demon left throwing the man down, but did not injure the man.

The people were all the more amazed at Jesus, at his authority in his teaching, and at his power to command the spirits. And the people spread the word about him to the surrounding communities.

Jesus wasn’t just another teacher, he had demonstrated his authority in many ways to the people. It was in his teaching, in his miracles, and in his ability to cast out demons.

Today we have many spiritual teachers who use various techniques to get their messages across to their listeners. Some have earned our respect through their command of the Scriptures, and are able to bring many people to their knees under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Many great teachers also effectively use their spiritual gifts for healing and for casting out demons even today. Praise God for his faithful messengers who are able to use their God-given spiritual gifts to reach the lost for Jesus.

Unfortunately, we also have spiritual teachers who have resorted to less than honorable methods to reach the lost. They use manipulation to create an appearance of a “movement of the Spirit.” While there are many examples, a few of the more common ones include noise for the sake of noise, people falling back with a push on the forehead rather than an authentic experience of being “slain in the Spirit,” and tongues that can be self-generated instead of Spirit-generated. Often spiritual leaders who use deceitful methods can also be spotted by an over-indulgence of self-promotion as well.

I am aware that I will have probably offended many of my readers at this point. I am not saying that all instances of noisy worship, people being slain in the Spirit, or people speaking in tongues, are less than acts of God and his Holy Spirit. We serve an awesome God who manifests his glory and his love in more ways than we can count. He has used each of these and more to meet the needs of his people.

Heavenly Father, grant us discernment as we seek out genuine Christian teachers who will handle your Word faithfully as they help us to draw closer to you. Give us wisdom that we might recognize the wolves in sheep’s clothing who might deceive us into blindly following their leadership which may lead us farther away instead of closer to you. Help us to fix our eyes on you alone as revealed in your Son, Jesus the Christ.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Hebrews 13:7-9  Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

Who led you to faith in Jesus? What was it about him or her that made you want to know more? Verse 7 encourages us to imitate the faith of those who led us to faith.

Verse 8 reminds us that Jesus doesn’t change. We need to remember that when we are presented with some of the off-the-wall theology that we get thrown at us from every direction today. We have people in high places (on popular TV programs, running for office as President, the list goes on) who are coming up with some very creative ways to validate themselves as Christians, but their claims don’t hold up to the teachings in the Bible. Jesus isn’t changing to fit the needs of people today, we are simply getting bombarded with today’s people trying to justify themselves and the changes they want to bring about in our country. The sad part is that so few people know what the Bible says that they will swallow any theology thrown at them, unable to discern fact from fiction.

Verse 9 aptly follows verse 8. Don’t be so gullible as to buy into the most popular theology of the day. Satan is out to deceive all who will listen. The day of the Antichrist can’t be too far away.

Don’t be deceived. Take Bible study seriously. Read it for yourself. Don’t take my word for it or anyone else’s until you are willing to dig in and start reading it for yourself and applying what it says to your own life.

Dear Jesus, please shake us and wake us from our sleep. Stir our hearts to want to know you more, to hunger and thirst for your Holy Word, as it truly contains the wisdom that we need for our day. You haven’t changed. Wisdom isn’t new, nor has it changed. People have simply allowed their own lusts and desires to lead themselves down reckless paths that will lead them and all who follow them into destruction. Forgive us Lord, and restore our nation to the glory it once knew when it declared itself to be “one nation under God.”

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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I feel bad to have stopped writing on His Whisperings, but doing so is making a big difference in my being able to handle all the other demands on my live over the next three months. I am still reading the Book of Daniel, and instead of reading only the chapters in the recommended reading from the Sunday school book, I am reading them all. It takes far more time to read and write than it does to only read.

But I would like to make a few general comments about the book of Daniel that have been on my heart for years.  My commentary is as much on the status of seminaries as it is on the book of Daniel.

Because my father was a pastor for many years of his life before leaving the ministry to become a science teacher, I became aware of his skeptical attitude towards taking the Bible literally. The book of Daniel was one that he would not believe. Apparently there are names in this book that pre-dated the times these people lived. He and his seminary teachers made the decision, based on this information, that the book of Daniel was written much later than the time in which Daniel was supposed to have lived. They may have some valid points worth looking at – for myself, I don’t have the time to search it out just now.

But I do have this to say. Who are we to tell God what he can and cannot do? Is God too small to give Daniel some names out of the future (if indeed that happened in the book of Daniel)? Are we so smart that we can decide for ourselves what God isn’t capable of doing? It is presumptuous to put it mildly for any human being, no matter how smart he/she is to decide that something didn’t happen because we have problems understanding it. If we are smart enough to understand everything about God including what he can and cannot do, then we would be equal with God. Now that is what I can’t swallow.

Of course we don’t understand it all. Neither does a child understand that he has to go to bed at a certain time, that he can have only so many cookies or pieces of candy before he must leave the rest for another day, and that sitting and working out math problems after school every day is important.

I have heard a story told of a father and son. From several feet away, the father was watching his son who was playing in his sandbox under a tree when the father suddenly turned serious and said, “Son,  come to me.” Now the boy knew he hadn’t done anything wrong, and he was thoroughly engrossed in building his sand castle. He could have stood there and demanded to know why he should stop playing just now. He could have asked his father to come to him and look at his castle too. Or he could walk away from his project to see what his father wanted. But the boy didn’t know what the father knew. His father was watching a poisonous snake on a branch directly over the child’s head.

We are like that boy. We have to decide whether to trust God to be who he says he is, or to decide for ourselves who we will let God be (as if our decision had any influence whatsoever on the reality of God.)

Unfortunately too many of our current seminaries are taking the scoffer’s approach to understanding the Bible. These misguided theologians are willing to discard the truth of anything bigger than they can understand. In their teachings, they deny God’s power and capability to guide a human being in the writing of scripture, and they deny God’s influence over a group of dedicated Christian men who determined which writings were to be identified as Holy Scriptures and which were not (the canons).

Thankfully, there are still a few good seminaries that are willing to accept all of God’s word as holy. These faithful ones are willing to acknowledge what they don’t understand without faulting the Bible and God for their own lack of understanding. They accept that it is possible not to know all the answers on this side of eternity.

As you read about the Bible from any source other than the Bible itself, ask God for his wisdom and discernment on what you should believe and what you should dismiss as yet one more scoffer’s opinion.

     8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ 12  I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. Luke 10:8-12 (NIV)

     The seventy-two followers of Jesus were encouraged to accept what was given them and to proclaim the kingtom by ministering to the needs of the people through healing and preaching about the kingdom of God. These people’s ministry was to prepare the people’s hearts to receive Jesus. 

     Jesus told them not to go where they were not wanted. But they weren’t told to leave without speaking either. He didn’t tell them to argue or debate with people whose hearts are hard, but rather to make a public display of shaking the dust off their feet while explaining the meaning of their actions. They were to continue to tell them with certainty that the kingdom of God was near before they left to go to another town. 

     If we are to take this example for ministering to people in our own day and time, we need also to consider the differences in culture. If we were to shake the dust off our feet when our witness falls on “deaf ears” they probably wouldn’t have a clue what it was supposed to mean. To me the important thing is to caution them that they are losing a battle that is eternal and that they are the ones making their own choices. 

     I am reminded of the scripture where Jesus tells us not to cast our pearls before the swine. (Matthew 7:6 KJV) Offer what you have, but when you are rudely brushed off it is time to back off without apologizing for your message.

     Lord, we want to proclaim your kingdom, but sometimes we find situations that are very tough. Help us to pray this through so that we truly understand the way that is pleasing to you. Please give us right discernment and an extra measure of your Holy Spirit when we find ourselves in these tough situations, so that we may have a right spirit and will say the words you would have us to speak.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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