If we disagree about the bulk of this article, let’s agree on one thing: Jesus, the Son of the only wise and living God, is Lord. Can I get an amen?
All right. Now that we’re on the same page, I’d like to start off this year by giving my fellow believers some serious food for prayer. A friend of mine and I were talking about the songs and clichés we’ve heard all of our lives in church. At first, they seemed funny and harmless, but the more we discussed the topic, the more revelation God began to shed in our hearts about the tiny words that make all the difference in what believers experience.
I don’t want to major on the minors with this blog post. I am simply asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate for each individual reader what He wants everyone to know. (He’s really good at that, by the way!) The Bible says that our words are powerful (Proverbs 18:21). The Holy Spirit can teach us to be careful with them.
That said, here are four sayings (even “singings”) that were probably coined with great intentions, yet warrant investigation.
1. “When the praises go up, blessings come down.” Like anyone who loves to praise God, I count it beautiful to hear the people of God praise His name. I can only imagine the glorious roar we will shout at the return of our King!
However, When I’m standing with the congregation and a well-meaning but perhaps discouraged worship leader instructs me to praise God so I can get my blessing, I just want to run up, grab the microphone and shout, “NOOOOOO! Praise Him because He is good! Praise Him because His mercy is everlasting! Praise Him for Jesus! Let all God’s people praise His Holy Name!”
Here’s the deal: God is infinitely brilliant. He cannot be manipulated. He knows when we are praising Him because He is worthy versus when we are simply moving our lips because we want something back. Jesus said that worship coming from the wrong motivation is “in vain” (Matthew 15:9). We’re not doing people (or God) any favors by urging them to shout over the blessing instead of the One who blesses.
It is not our job to police other people’s motives. God knows the heart (Luke 16:15). Let’s praise Him for who He is, not to try to trick Him into blessing us—as if that were even possible!
2. “Your breakthrough is around the corner/on the way/in the oven”. I understand that there are promises and manifestations which have not yet been perceived in the physical realm by our natural eyes. But there’s something extremely dangerous about convincing people that we’re waiting on God to do something. If we’re still waiting on the breakthrough, who was Jesus?
In actuality, we received our breakthrough 2014 years ago when Christ died, rose again, and made a spectacle of the enemy! Teaching people that we are still waiting on God to do something else before we are victorious has put countless Christians in carrot-on-a-stick mode, always waiting for God to do something really big. Meanwhile, we’re in this “wilderness season” or “birthing” stance. While we wait, we get into this self-righteous frenzy, wondering what else we need to do to get ourselves ready, make ourselves good enough, or put ourselves “in position” for God to do this miraculous thing. We’re buying all these tapes and CDs – 10 Steps to Getting Rid of Sin, 7 Ways to Wash Your Robe. Again I ask: If this great miracle will come at the end of me straightening myself out and pulling myself together, what was the purpose of Jesus?
Jesus told us to believe that we “have received” what we ask for (Mark 11:24). We don’t need to pitch a perpetual tent in God’s great waiting room. By His love, the big miracle has already taken place! Rejoice in Christ and receive His finished work!
3. “God won’t put more on you than you can bear.” This phrase has been spoken at funerals and hospitals by many a well-meaning believer who wanted to encourage and strengthen a brothers or sister in Christ. However, a closer look at the scriptures actually reveals quite the opposite.
First of all, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear—not hurt or sorrowful beyond what we can handle. Big difference.
Secondly, a Spirit-filled believers can know that his/her tribulation is beyond what they can bear. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8 that he and other disciples were pressed above their own strength so much that they hated life! But in the next verses, Paul explains that God, who raised Christ from the dead, delivered them.
The beauty of a life lived in Christ is that we, too, can know what it means to lean completely on Him as our strength. Now, instead of telling people that they are strong enough to make it through, we can agree with them that they aren’t—and we can walk with them to the One who is!
4. “This-that-or-the-other is blocking your blessing!” My hunch is that you may have started reading this article to find out what you might be doing wrongly that’s causing God to withhold something from you. Or maybe you want to know how you can “get in position” in order to receive from Him.
Here is the secret: Believe on Jesus Christ!
There is nothing stronger than His blood! Sin is broken, He has saved you, and you are free to live in Him! If Ephesians 1:3 is true, then you have already received all the spiritual blessings through Christ. If Ephesians 1:3 is not true, then nothing else in His word is true, either. Period. Sounds rough, but the Word is not true-ish (Matthew 5:18). Either we are waiting for another Calvary or it is finished. Believers agree with Christ: It is finished (Luke 19:30).
If there is anyone waiting on anything, it is Him waiting on us to truly believe and receive the life of Christ! You may be thinking: But Michelle, if a person isn’t living right, isn’t spiritually mature, hasn’t fully surrendered, doesn’t have a giving heart, etc., they are blocking their blessing!
I submit to you that people don’t grow or surrender or do anything they don’t actually believe in first. Everything, including our very salvation, hinges on faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Who lives in us now. After that, He is faithful to sanctify us and present us blameless before Himself (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) – and notice Who actually performs the sanctifying in that verse!
May God continue to reveal who you are in Him and who He is in you!
If you’d like to examine more cliches that oppose the Word, download “Uncommon Sense: 30 Truths to Radically Renew Your Mind in Christ” – FREE on Kindle through January 6, 2014!!!