Category Archives: Discernment

How Much Wrong Teaching is Too Much?

An interesting discussion about Christian-classified books or movies, fiction and nonfiction, and should they support biblical theology. Reblogged for your consideration.

WordServe Water Cooler

There is an ongoing debate in Christian circles about whether non-fiction or fiction books are best. Proponents of each, particularly those firmly planted in their perspective camp, tend to be slightly (sometimes more than slightly) disdainful of the other. I have always maintained, however, that this is not an either/or proposition. As every good preacher (including Jesus) will tell you, it’s vitally important to spend time expounding on the Word, but when you launch into a story to illustrate that Word, that’s when everyone suddenly straightens in their seats and becomes even more engaged. Both are needed. The same is true with fiction. In my opinion, if classified as Christian, a story must be firmly rooted in good theology if it is going to have a powerful, lasting impact on the reader.

But is my opinion the right one? If not, it wouldn’t be the first time. And lately I have had…

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Understanding Truth

Understanding Truth

Read Matthew 22:23–46

Charles was new to Full Gospel Tabernacle. He often heard people praying in different languages. He was not against it, although it annoyed him at times. Speaking with other tongues didn’t fit his doctrine. Besides, what purpose did it serve? He still prayed, right? Wasn’t that good enough?

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).

Phil, a deacon at church, sensed his frustration. He suggested that Charles take a second look at the Scriptures concerning the Holy Spirit, then pray about it for a while. Phil even gave him a list of verses. A few weeks later, something powerful happened. Charles was baptized in the Holy Spirit and began praying in a language he had never learned. Experiencing the power of God firsthand changed Charles’ perspective on tongues.

It helps to know all the Scriptures concerning an issue, but we also need to know the power of God. The Scriptures and the Spirit of God work in harmony to confirm truth. When we leave one of them out, doctrinal errors can occur.

Prayer Suggestion: Take your Bible to prayer. Let God’s Word enlighten you while His power touches you.

Quicklook: Matthew 22:23–32

—Charles Earl Harrel

God’s Word for Today © 2007 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

Order God’s Word for Today devotional guides.
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We Must Be Broken

Working ClayWe Must Be Broken

Read Matthew 21:28–46

“He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed” (Matthew 21:44).

Wheat must be ground before becoming bread. Grapes are pressed to make wine. With hardened clay, artisans must pound it until pliable; only then can they mold it into pottery. In each case, the breaking process is arduous but necessary.

Jesus understood the spiritual application better than anyone. If we are not broken voluntarily, by falling on the stone, then the stone will crush us on Judgment Day. Jesus Christ becomes either the cornerstone of our salvation or the divine rock of judgment (see Psalms 118:22, 23).

When we fall upon Christ, we surrender to His mercy. Brokenness ensues. This life-changing process is God’s way to make us useful. Likewise, when pottery shatters, it creates potsherds. In biblical times, these broken shards served as plates, vessels for scooping water, writing tablets, or trays for carrying hot coals. Ironically, a vessel was more useful after being broken. The same is true for us.

Thought for Today: We have two choices in this life—be broken or be crushed. Please choose the first way.

Quicklook: Matthew 21:42–44

—Charles Earl Harrel

God’s Word for Today © 2007 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

Order God’s Word for Today devotional guides.
Visit Gospel Publishing House.

Delivery Day

Kingdom of God

Delivery Day   

Read Matthew 24:1–28

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains (Matthew 24:7, 8).

The nightly news has begun. By the time it ends, reporters will cover the latest military conflict, increasing crime, devastating earthquakes, and record-setting weather. After the commercial break, we hear about deadly viruses, diseases with no known cure, inner cities filled with hate, and hungry children. In some countries, whole cities are starving.

Fires of unrest are sprouting in every nation, bloodshed their answer for everything. Death tolls are rising on all fronts. The newscaster ends his broadcast on a happy note, but even a heart-touching story cannot erase the images just seen.

All these “birthing pains” were foretold by Jesus. They are laborious but leading somewhere. With each contraction, the world announces the delivery of something grand—the arrival of a new kingdom—one filled with righteousness.

Challenge for Today:  Be patient, the delivery will be on time, and soon.

Quicklook: Matthew 24:4–8

—Charles Earl Harrel

God’s Word for Today © 2007 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

Order God’s Word for Today devotional guides.
Visit Gospel Publishing House.

Don’t Act That Way

You DecideDon’t Act That Way

Read Matthew 23:1–22

In biblical times, the Pharisees were devoted extremists who believed in a strict and limited interpretation of Scripture, especially when it came to the Law of Moses.

The scribes, also known as lawyers, defended the Scriptures. They taught from the Law, helped with religious duties, and served as judges in the Sanhedrin. Many of the scribes were also Pharisees. Jesus often referred to both groups as hypocrites because of their one-sided beliefs and actions.

“So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Matthew 23:3).

Most societies have laws and leaders who enforce them. Their authority is necessary, their rules needful. However, certain officials, supervisors at work, even some religious leaders can become legalistic, their judgments unfair. Jesus still has the same advice: We should respect all positions of authority, even corrupt ones. Respect their positions, but do not act like them.  

Prayer Suggestion: When you encounter hypocrisy, don’t duplicate it, pray for wisdom.

Quicklook: Matthew 23:1–4

—Charles Earl Harrel

God’s Word for Today © 2007 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

Order God’s Word for Today devotional guides.
Visit Gospel Publishing House.

Depend on Christ

philosophy-1Depend on Christ

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8).

Scripture: Colossians 2:1–10
Song: “Do Not Worry”

Philosophy comes from the Greek word philosophia, which means the “love of wisdom.” Therefore, philosophers were those who studied and debated the finer aspects of wisdom as they searched for the meaning of life. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul noted that the Jews sought after signs while Greeks looked for wisdom. No wonder Greece gave birth to three of the greatest philosophers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

There’s nothing wrong with searching for wisdom; even the Bible tells us to ask for it when we lack understanding. But philosophy based on purely human ideals, apart from divine revelation, can lead us astray. Such philosophy can leave us empty and hollow, like a hole dug for no purpose.

So let us pursue Christ today—His wisdom, His righteousness, and the theology of the cross that the apostle Paul so masterfully proclaimed. This school of thought always leads to eternal life.

Father, You gave me the greatest textbook in the world. My Bible has everything I need: wisdom, hope, and the words of truth. By reading it daily, I feel prepared for every situation. Thank You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

“Depend on Christ” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2010 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase current printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.

 

All Pieces Necessary

jigsaw puzzle

ALL PIECES NECESSARY

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others (Romans 12:4, 5).

Scripture: Romans 12:3–8
Song: “Bind Us Together”

Long before video games, high-definition television, cell-phone text messaging, and surfing the World Wide Web, people entertained themselves with less technical pursuits. One of them was putting jigsaw puzzles together. My sister and I loved working on them: the more pieces, the better. If Mom and Dad joined in, then we each took a corner and worked toward the middle. Sometimes it took weeks to complete one—all the more fun.

Occasionally, pieces disappeared, no doubt chewed up by Whiskers, our dog. What a disappointment to work for weeks on a picture and not finish it because of missing pieces! It didn’t matter which ones were gone; without all of them, the picture was incomplete, fragmented.

The same holds true for the church. We need everyone and every ministry if Christ’s body is to be whole and healthy. Each jagged-edged member fits perfectly together when Christ becomes the focus of the picture. All members have their own specialty, each one complementing the other.

O Lord, I realize my contributions to the body of Christ are valuable. When I am absent from the body, an essential piece of the ministry is missing. Being needed feels good! Thank you, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“All Pieces Necessary” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2010 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase current printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.