As many of you are aware of, there are horrible fires raging here in Northern California. They have wrought destruction to an area very close to where I live. So close in fact that our air quality was so bad the schools were closed two days last week. The amount of devistaion that they have caused will mean that it could take years to fully rebuild and restore all that was lost.
In relation to the spiritual, we, as believers often think of fire like affliction or trials. We think of fire as destructive and painful. As hot and overwhelming. Indeed, fire posses all of those qualities. Yet, as believers, the cry of our hearts should be, "Lord, send the fire!" Fire brings heat, heat melts away all that cannot withstand the temperatures. The Word of God does just that according to Jeremiah 23:29. The holy words of the Almighty burns away the evil from our hearts, it burns the carnal from our desires. The flesh cannot withstand the fire of God and live, but the Spirit within us is born of the fire of the Holy Ghost. It longs for the purity which the fire delivers.
Isaiah 43:1-2 NASV says, "But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you."
When you are dedicated to Jesus, the flames of spiritual fire cannot burn up your spirit. When you are walking in the way of the Holy Spirit, you have nothing to fear in the fire. If the things of the physical, or the things of the flesh pass away, your spirit is still held, unscathed, in the hands of the Lord. You will walk away not burned, but even more alive than ever before in the Spirit, stronger than you thought you could be. Why? Because the things that cannot withstand the fire are gone! They no longer hold to you or weigh you down. This is what the Word of God does! It burns out those things which are not of God!
As many of us understand, this is not a painless process. In fact, there are some who have found it so difficult to accept they have attempted to smother the fire by making sin acceptable and even welcomed. Yet, when our hearts are dedicated to the Will of Jesus Christ, we must allow His Word full authority to come and burn up what is not of His Spirit or His Nature. I don't know about you, but as a believer, I don't want to be carrying things with me that keep me from walking in the purity of Christ. I don't want to be guilty of twisting the Words of God to avoid the fire. Purity requires the fire. Fire purges from us what is not of the purest nature. And my desire is to be pure before a Holy God, a God that can accept nothing less, for that matter.
So today, let me encourage you to accept the fire of the Word of God. The Word that is, as Jeremiah said, "a hammer," it can smash a rock to pieces. May the purging fire of Jesus destroy in us, what is not of Him. And may we long for the purity that the fire brings. It may be hot, it may even be overwhelming to see our sins, our flesh, laid bare before us as we examine our hearts according to God's holy Word. But let the flames eat up the evil in our hearts. Though it may be as destruction in our eyes, the Lord sees it as wholeness.
So, I can hardly contain how very excited I am to have this new "Devotions" portion of the blog up. God has given me a platform that I am beyond blessed to utilize. My sincere desire is, through this page, is to walk together to the cross, as often as God lays a word on my heart to share with you. I would love your comments, along with the personal revelations that God is revealing to you. I am so often encouraged and inspired by those special moments with Jesus that other's share with me.
My goal in sharing these devotions is not to act like a preacher, or a teacher, or anything of the sort. The author of Hebrews so beautifully stated what I believe the purpose of this page is in Hebrews 3:13, "But exhort one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." As believers, it is our calling to share the Word of God with one another to keep each other following after the cross of Jesus. The temptations of this world are many, and the strong are few, but God has given us all we need for life and godliness. I long to encourage you with what our Lord and Savior has given me. I hope, from the very depths of my soul, to exhort you, beloved of Jesus, so that you might remain strong when the world around us is crumbling. And I ask that you would do the same for me. I long for your encouragement, your love, and to hear of the testimony of Jesus Christ in your own life.
What I am going to share today is something that God has laid heavily upon my heart in my personal walk with Jesus. Yet, I do not believe it is a matter of personal conviction. I don't want to sound condescending towards anyone who would read this because this is not a light topic. And this is not casting judgment upon anyone because I’m not. This is still a daily struggle for me. If you are struggling too, know this; I have walked the path, I have experienced the pull, and God is changing my heart. Am I free from this temptation now? Absolutely not. Do I still struggle? Yes. And it is much easier to surrender than to fight. But today, my chief desire is to encourage you to fight. Fight with the Word of God, and watch what happens.
So, to begin, let me start by saying, the entertainment culture of today is inciting. Movies are of the highest quality, the acting is superb, and quite often the story lines suck you in like a vacuum. Whether it be movies or main stream TV shows there is something for everyone. Even the Christian or faith based movies are well done and very entertaining.
But I propose this thought to you today; for the sake of entertainment, we have abandoned the purity (Colossians 1:21-22) of the bride of Christ, the purity (Isaiah 1:18) that was won on the Cross. That's a heavy statement, I know, but hear me out.
Disclaimer: I will be specifically referring to movies and TV shows in this post, but music and social media can be added in to this entertainment discussion, as well.
Philippians 4:8 states, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
If you were to take the words of Paul and apply them to the entertainment you watch or listen to, would you be able to stand before God and say, "I obeyed your Words, Lord?" Is what you watch what Jesus would consider excellent? Is what you set before your eyes commendable? I don't mean, does it have a good message, I mean would the Lord be pleased at what you chose to set before you for the sake of entertainment?
"We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:18-21
Everyone who has been born of God does not continue to sin. That alone is something to chew on. But the last portion is what pricks my heart. "...keep yourself from idols." I doubt I am alone when I say that movies and entertainment are definitely things that can easily become idolatrous in my life. I mean really, how many of us chose to sit and read the Bible together as a family, whether it's just two of us or tons of us, over watching a movie? It is often a challenge to chose Jesus. Again, I am not trying to be condescending, as I deal with the same struggles. But this is what God is showing me, and man, it really gets to the heart of what is going on in my own life.
The scariest part, is quite often that the types of TV and movies that pull us in are also permeated with language, sometimes the insinuation of sex (often outside of God's design), if not blatantly sex itself, bad behavior, lying, and coarse joking (Eph 5:3-5). These things are not tolerated by Jesus, so why should they be by us, those who were so graciously and mercifully won by His incredible love? Does Jesus not deserve better?
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." Titus 2:11-14
Grace is not a license to sin, (Romans 6:1) so we need to be renouncing those things which are not of God and that give way to the things of this world. They are not of Jesus and they are not for believers. Period. God has created us for Him, and Him alone. He made us so that even when the latest movies and TV shows come on we can discern, as believers, that His ways are worth choosing over the things that delight the world. TV and movies that do not honor Jesus (i.e., unwed sex, language, drinking, & senseless violence) do not feed the spirit within us. That is why we must exhort each other! So that we don't fall into the things that delight the flesh.
What your watching you may not feel convicted about, but when you compare your entertainment to the Word of God, do they agree?
In conclusion, I want to share my personal testimony with you. I hope through my story, you may walk away encouraged.
Growing up, I was allowed to watch movies with the D-word or H.E.Double Hockey Sticks, and an occasional O.M.G. It never seemed to bother me, and although I knew those things were of themselves wrong, I just didn't care about allowing it into my spirit. I just ignored it and went on. The older I got, the restrictions got less and less, and more language was allowed. Of course I wasn't walking around repeating it, but still, those words lingered in the back file cabinets of my mind. Then I was allowed to watch movies with a steamy scene or two, as long as I fast-forward through it, which I willingly agreed to do. Then I was allowed to watch movies where the bad guy became the good guy, the thief or the cheater became the hero. And soon enough, before I realized what was happening, I was allowing the things that God hates to become my entertainment. Sure, a lot of the stories had "good morals" but looking back I've come to realize that even when the show or movie has good morals, that does not mean it honors the Lord. Roman's 8:8 says, " Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Even if it is mainly moral, if it is void of Jesus because of compromise, it does not honor God.
So while I was in this season of entertainment compromise, Jesus brought my wonderful, amazing, hot, loving, and most of all, God-fearing husband into my life. And just in passing conversation he said, "I gave up almost everything I watched before because I realized, I would never watch that if Jesus were in the flesh, sitting beside me." And that statement challenged my entire walk with God.
I have friends that are giants in the faith, whose walks with Jesus are like something out of scripture, whose love and devotion for our Savior is like no one I have ever seen, and every single one of those individuals has given up the entertainment that does not edify their souls, or that would not please the Lord due to it's content. I don't mean to say that movies that aren't namely "Christian" are totally off limits. Thankfully, there are still some movies with great morals and no compromise, and let's not forget some of the old classics. But judging every movie, TV show or any form of entertainment by the Word of God is something biblically important. (Proverbs 4:23)
I want to leave you all with a question that I often ask myself when I am struggling with wanting to watch a show or movie that my spirit says no to, but my flesh says yes. Is honoring God and His ways more valuable to us that what momentarily entertains us? It doesn't matter if you are seemingly unaffected by the cussing or the innuendos, God sees what you are doing. Is what you put before your eyes staining the robe of righteousness which Jesus has placed upon you?
Be encourage Christians, God's ways are better than anything the world could ever deliver! May God bless you.