One of the best parts of being from a West Indian heritage is the food. I mean, Trinidad–or Jamaica– wouldn’t be the same without Roti, Jerk Chicken, and pilau, would it? But we all know that, if you ask a Trinidadian for a recipe, you’re probably not going to get one—at least, not one with exact measurements. You just sort of improvise and things end up okay.
What goes into your spiritual life?
I’d like to compare our spiritual lives to… well, food. Just as several ingredients come together to make a meal we enjoy, so our lives are chock full of a variety of different experiences, memories, biases, and habits that make us each unique.
Now, you can improvise with dinner but you cannot improvise with your soul. Christ has very specific outcomes that He wants to see and He won’t adjust His recipe for anyone.
And that’s the sticky part for many of us Christians, right there.
Think of the Word as a recipe–a recipe that must be followed to the letter in order to achieve the results that the Recipe Maker had in mind.
How do we filter the Word?
But humans have a strange habit. Whenever the Word is preached, we subconsciously pass it through a mental filter and, as such, limit how much of an impact it has in our lives.
Like the Hebrews who listend to Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 22:1-22) ,we are quick to accept aspects of a sermon with which we already agree. I call this spiritual confirmation bias. But when the Word is dealing with things that we’re sensitive about, we sometimes put things to one side. In the “to be dealt with later” pile that never really gets dealt with.
How does this work in real life?
Case in point, let’s take a fictitious person…Tonya. Tonya is a Spirit-filled Christian,but she grew up in an abusive home where her dad often yelled at her mother. Now, she’s an adult, but whenever the preacher raises his voice in the pulpit, Tonya has a hard time accepting what he says, because she’s automatically thrown back to her childhood. She subconsciously associates raised voices with anger.
Rob, another fictitious person in the congregation, loves it when the preacher gets loud because he associates raised voices with strength and authority–something he grew up seeing. Rob thinks God is dealing with him because he feels blessed whenever the preacher speaks with authority, but… in reality, he’s filtering out the WORD and is mistaking his own comfort zone for a move of God in his life. He isn’t really benefiting from the sermon—he’s pretty much just boosting his own ego.
In both cases, the Christians are focusing on HOW things make them feel instead of WHAT is being said and how it can change their life. In both cases, the Word is being filtered through past experiences. They must push past their own experiences and focus on the Word.
A couple that has been married multiple times may shrink back at the parts of the Word that speak against divorce and remarriage. But if their hearts are in the right place, they will agree with the Word anyway and stand by it.
To dig a little deeper, when God calls for us to repent, Christians often don’t see a need to do so. “What do I have to repent for?” they ask. On the surface, we don’t see our wrongs because we are not looking at ourselves through the eyes of the Spirit. I think of the church in Revelations. How many times Christ called for repentence! Yet they—especially the Laodicean church—felt that they were right in their own eyes.
Why does this happen?
Because in this last age, everything that we hear is passed through the filter of our own judgment. WE decide what we want to believe. WE decide what we want to change.
And we can express our opinion about everything.
I was recently surprised to see that people could rate prison. Our local jail has a rating of 2.8 stars! But this is the age where everything is evaluated–and, as a result, we become used to judging things by our own standards.
Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “The carnal mind always maps out for itself a way in which self can work and become great. But the Lord’s way is quite the reverse.” It is easy for our mind to justify our own beliefs–that has been the nature of humanity since Adam.
Balaam filtered the divine commandment NOT to curse Israel through the filter of his own ambition. Barak, warrior of Israel, passed the Word of the Lord that Deborah brought through the filter of his own fear. Sarah passed the divine promise through the filter of the fact that she was beyond child-bearing years.
And in all these cases, we see that things didn’t turn out as God originally intended when He wrote the recipe—or gave them His Word of promise.
What does this mean for you?
Be very careful not to allow past experiences (memories), your thoughts (imaginations), your feelings about a certain person/thing (affections), your self-esteem (conscience) or the probable outcome of a situation (reasoning) to impact what parts of the Word you receive.
You don’t use all the ingredients in your kitchen when you’re making a meal. You automatically exclude some because they don’t belong. Likewise, you include others because they do. I mean, can you imagine having macaroni pie without the cheese? Somethings just should be legal!
The unique ingredients of our life—our personality, life choices etc.— are to be filtered through God’s recipe and not the other way around.
Remember, God will put into you exactly what He expects to get out of you. But, if He sends it and you choose not to receive it, when the testing (or tasting) time comes, you’ll be found lacking.
So, how can we keep ourselves from filtering out parts of God’s recipe?
- Be watchful.
- Remind yourself that God’s Word comes to identify and cut out the issues in your life. It is the filter itself. But if you “filter the filter” you’ll be left with a bunch of dirt in your life.
- If you’re tempted to reject something, or put it off to another time, ask yourself…why? On the flip side, if you really feel blessed by something that’s said, ask yourself if you are truly believing it or just enjoying it? Is there meaningful, lasting change?
If something kind of “gets under your skin” is it because there’s an issue there that Satan doesn’t want exposed or removed?
Brother Branham taught us that revelation exposes Satan and, as such, he fights against it! (The Revelation of Jesus Christ). If Satan can misrepresent truth by twisting its appearance to your mind. If he can convince you that you’ve accepted the Word, but there’s no lasting change, then the Word has not been received in your heart…and the devil wins.
What makes a powerful church?
A powerful church is one that is willing to stay on its knees until enough unction from heaven comes to make every word of the Bible a reality. That is when we can say that we have overcome ourselves. After all, it is the Word itself that prepares us for the Coming of the Lord.
Recommended reading for meditation:
Ephesians 6 (whole chapter).
Colossians 3 (whole chapter)
Tape: Questions and Answers #4 08.30.1964 (same as last week).