Tuesday, June 26, 2018

THE FATHER OF LIES
 
Keep the door bolted against lying.

My formative years were shaped around the philosophy that lying had its place, especially if a little "white lie" was told to avoid hurting someone. However, lying is part of our old fallen nature that existed before we surrendered our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. 

We see that old sinful nature exposed in very young children with a similar scenario played out in many homes. A child stands covered in chocolate—the perfect billboard for Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. You ask them if they ate the chocolate bar that you had hidden in the pantry. Their guilty, chocolate-covered face betrays them as they answer, "No." If lying weren't so serious, it would be funny.

Children are told to tell the truth, but then, with all good and loving intentions, a parent might create elaborate, false stories or false explanations to answer their child's inquisitiveness. They might make false promises or ironically, as my parents did, tell an outright lie to insure compliance, "If you lie, your nose will grow like Pinocchio's." Of course, my parents were not Christians at that time, so they did not know God's position on lying; therefore, they couldn't pass that truth to us.

Students lie to their teachers. Employees lie to their bosses. Patients conceal the truth from their doctors. Spouses lie to spouses. Friends lie to friends. Parents lie to children. Children lie to parents. People lie about their age and weight. People conceal and lie about their past. People lie to themselves. The list of lies is endless. 

The Lord tells us that there are seven things that are an abomination to Him—haughtiness, lying, murdering, plotting evil, eagerness to do wrong, a false witness, and sowing discord among the brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19). The harsh reality is that "all liars will have their part in the lake, which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8 NKJV).

Why is hell punishment for lying to those who do not repent? Jesus said this about those who lie, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44 NIV). 

What is a lie? The dictionary defines a lie as an untruth, falsehood, white lie, perjury, fabrication, falsification, deception, betrayal, made-up story, tale, half-truth, pretense, crookedness, exaggeration, fiction, evasiveness, and concealment. The verb form is to misinform, mislead, stretch the truth; hedge, evade, trick, conceal, or cheat. Even a "white" lie is a deception that invalidates a person's integrity. According to those definitions, at one time or another, we have all lied; therefore, we must repent. 

The Word tells us, Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator (Colossians 3:9-10). We are created in the image of God, who does not lie. If we have a relationship with all Truth (Jesus Christ), how can we justify lying in any form?

When I became a Christian, God revealed the importance of truthfulness. Truthfulness was relevant to me, because I had experienced pain and disappointment from those who had called themselves Christians, yet they had lied, broken promises, betrayed confidences, stolen from me, and had harbored hidden sin. What they had really stolen was my ability to trust God. After all, if I couldn't trust God's representatives, how could I trust Him? As a fledgling Christian, those betrayals and lies by fellow Christians were heartbreaking and painful. Today, it is not any less painful to be at the receiving end of a betrayal or lie.

We know the spiritual aspect of why we lie, but why do humans give into the temptation to lie? Dr. Robert S. Feldman, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science, examined lying and deception for over 25 years and said, "People lie because they can get away with it; because it works for them. It's a way to get along with other people. It's a way to control [their] world, and it's a way that [they] can use to make people do what [they] want them to do." He went on to say that men usually lie to make themselves look better and to build themselves up, and women tend to lie to make others and themselves, feel good.      

We are daily inundated with false statements made by various people, ads, politicians, and the news media, that manipulate and distort the truth to promote their deceptive agendas. The enemy is relentless in using people and anything of this world to entice and draw us to his deceptions. Even false christs and false prophets will arise (currently present in many churches) and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24). 

Adam and Eve had every good gift from God, yet Satan was able to cleverly craft a lie, which they believed and then disobeyed God. We too are vulnerable to Satan's clever and enticing deceptions. Therefore, we must be prayerful and vigilant to discern and distinguish the truth from the lie. We must be sober-minded and watchful, for our adversary, the devil, prowls like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5:8).

The reality is that as human beings, we have all fallen for a lie. But we have also lied and embellished the truth. Romans 3:23-24 tell us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Praise God that He is quick to forgive us of our sins when we repent (Matthew 3:8).

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think (meditate) about such things" (Philippians 4:8).

PRAYER:
Lord, I come to You with a repentant heart. I realize that any form of lying is sin. Please forgive me for any and all lies, exaggerations, evasiveness, concealments, deceptions, half-truths,  and betrayals, whether intentional or unintentional. Help me each day to be aware of all untruth that might be poised on my tongue or any behaviors or thoughts that are not in keeping with Your will. I want to live a truthful and authentic life before You and others. In Jesus name, amen.

God is not human, that He should lie, 
not a human being, that He should change
His mind. Does He speak and then not act? 
Does He promise and not fulfill?
(Numbers 23:19)


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

LIFE'S CROCKPOT 

My husband and I love a thick and creamy homemade, chicken vegetable soup, so I decided to make some the other day. I pre-cooked the chicken, deboned it, and returned it to the pot. Then I added a variety of colorful vegetables and spices to the chicken and broth and allowed the ingredients to simmer. As the crockpot heated the ingredients, a wonderful aroma began to waft through our home, and it occurred to me that faith more often than not, develops like a potpourri of varying flavors, mingling in a simmering crockpot. 

A crockpot is a depository for cooking ingredients over a long period of time. This world is God's crockpot where He has been preparing mankind for heaven. His key ingredient is the Lord Jesus Christ. If Christ is not at the center of our life, then we are nothing more than a lost conglomerate of carnality that is self-seeking, self-serving, self-absorbed, vain, thoughtless, and looking out for number one—self. 

God monitors our response to the "heat" of life's challenges. For our responses determine the strength of our faith. Often when a crockpot reaches a full boil, we turn it to "medium" or "low." And when the soup is done, we then turn it to the "warm" setting for serving. Depending on what God is trying to accomplish within us, will determine the temperature He sets at different intervals of our life. 

God's love for us is so great, that He will not hesitate to turn the heat up from "low" to "high" in order to get our attention. He may also make adjustments when there is an imbalance in the flavor and fragrance of our life, because He desires that we, as Christ followers, carry and diffuse the fragrance of Christ throughout the world.

With Christ as the very center of our life, we must then be open to God's correction. Those of us, who cook, know that when preparing a dish, we often taste repeatedly to make various corrections and changes to the flavor until it is just right. God tells us, "whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid" (dense, ignorant, irrational, foolish) (Proverbs 12:1 NKJV). 

Correction means to amend a version of something or to rectify an error. Before we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, all of us were on the wrong path, walking in error. While on that path, we made many mistakes and added things to our lives that misdirected and misguided us. Some of those things harmed us. As Christ followers, we require daily correction, because each day, the flesh wants to revert to what it once knew and enjoyed. 

A good soup cannot be made in minutes; the Christian life cannot be made overnight. God has been patiently working in me for 47 years, for which I am grateful. He knows the potential  within me and within each of us. Therefore, He painstakingly guides us in making gradual corrections, which eventually give birth to maturity as a Christ follower. Hence, a sweet aroma reaches others, because we then carry the pleasing aroma of Christ to those being saved and those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15 NIV). For that reason, we must always be submitted to God, embracing His wisdom, His correction, and His knowledge, so that we can grow in faith.

 

Often, when cooking, we might not get the flavor just right because of too much or too little of an ingredient or seasoning. However, we don't throw the entire pot out because of a mistake or even a few mistakes. We keep working with the dish until it reaches the right consistency and flavor for serving. Equally as we learn and grow in the things of God, He doesn't become frustrated with us when we are not "seasoned" perfectly. He sees too much value in the ingredients that have been invested, so He continues to work with us. It is never an option to throw out what He started and begin again with all new ingredients, for He says, "if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance" (Romans 8:25 NKJV).


Perseverance means to be steadfast in doing something despite difficulty, delay, or obstacles in achieving success. With love and perseverance, God waits patiently for us to become that balanced blend of strength, courage, obedience, wisdom, humility, mercy, forgiveness, moral fiber, and faith. 

When life throws us a curveball, we must never give up, because so much has already been invested. If we become discouraged, we need to press in to God, knowing that He is bringing about a flavorful balance that will lend to a fragrant life that draws others to the cross.  

God's crockpot can be difficult and painful. We may encounter circumstances and challenges that we don't understand. However, that is not the time to resist God, because as ambassadors for Christ, God makes His appeal to the world through us (2 Corinthians 5:20). And very often those appeals are made through us in ways that we don't understand. Therefore, we must embrace the opportunity and trust and submit to His mighty hand. For in trusting Him, we achieve victorious faith that allows us to diffuse the fragrance of His knowledge to others, because we are the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

May we all submit to God, as His watchful eye monitors, and His steady hand stirs and tastes, until He is satisfied that we carry the fragrance of Christ. For God calls the world to "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). And it is the aromatic fragrance emitting from us that will cause the lost and hungry to eagerly taste of His goodness. 

PRAYER:
LORD, help me to be teachable and submit to Your correction. Give me the gifts of perseverance and faith so that when life heats up with all of its challenges, I will draw closer to You and make the proper corrections, thereby, creating a sweet aroma in my life that reach others. In Jesus name, Amen. 

Monday, June 4, 2018


WE ARE NEVER TOO YOUNG OR TOO OLD TO READ GOD'S WORD

THE TABLET OF YOUR HEART
God has again impressed upon my heart the extreme importance of knowing, speaking, and committing His Word to memory. For He says, "My people are destroyed because they don't know Me" (Hosea 4:6 TLB). 
How can we know God? The Bible reveals God's character, His heart, and His great love for us. His Word teaches us how to follow His example. His Word encourages, directs, guides, disciplines, and it defines sin, so that we know how to recognize and avoid sin. His Word reveals who we are in Christ and our role on earth. His Word reveals the enemy's clever schemes to kill, rob, and destroy. His Word is knowledge, power, and all truth that can save us from the world's many deceptions, traps, and dangers.
"God's Word is in the heavens and is the same Word that set the foundations of the world. For in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He [Jesus, the Word] was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made, that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John1: 1-3 NKJV).
"[Jesus]was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, [the Jewish people], and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld [Jesus'] glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1: 10-14 NKJV).
Jesus is the incarnate Word, which is Spirit and all truth. When you read His Word, you are reading the very heart of God. For that reason, it is imperative that we write His Word upon the tablet of our heart, for it generates an active, life-giving power in and through us. The Apostle John said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are Spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63 NKJV).

The naysayers state that God's Word is nothing more than an expose´ of opinions and fanciful stories. Jesus clearly said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will by no means pass away" (Luke 21:32-34). "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of God endures forever" (Isaiah 40:8). His Words are like indelible ink to be permanently imprinted upon the heart.

Why is God's Word so important? Jesus said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4). In other words, nourishing the body with food is important, but more importantly, the soul must be nourished with the Word of God. It is the soul that seeks worldly joys and pleasures to fill those empty places that constantly strive for things to satisfy. Alas, the world's offerings can never satisfy a hungry soul. 

God's Word is powerful and firmly fixed in heaven (Psalm 119:89). It is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12)

We might be able to fool others and ourselves, but God's Word exposes the true intentions and motives of every heart. For the Lord says that His Word, "is like a fire" that ignites a light in men's souls and purifies, cleanses, and illuminates their conscience. And "like a hammer," His Word breaks the rocky places of the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit (Jeremiah 23:29).

GOD spoke His Word and the worlds were formed and so was all creation. He continually urges us to speak His Word, for there is living, creative, restorative, delivering power in His Word. Thus, in committing His Word to memory, should we not have access to a Bible, we would be able to speak God's Word with His complete power and authority.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that we may be competent and equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God's living Word, when actively working within us, fully equips us for all good decision making. 

We are told in Joshua 1:8 that God's Word must not depart from our mouth, but we must meditate on it day and night, so that we are careful to do His Word according to all that is written in it. Then, we will make our way prosperous and will have good success. 

His Word is the linchpin to receiving everything we need to successfully navigate this life on earth and experience joy that only the Lord can give. For His precepts are right, giving joy to the heart. His commands are radiant, giving light (revelation) to the eyes (our understanding) (Psalm 19:8).

God's Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Without His Word to light our way, we fall into error and are caught by the world's deceptions. For the Word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (I Corinthians 1:18). Therefore, we devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of His Word (Acts 6:4).

God's Word heals and delivers us from destruction (Psalm 107:20). Therefore, "let the Word of Christ dwell in [us] richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16 ESV). 

PRAYER: 
Father, turn my eyes from seeking worthless things that have no eternal value in Your kingdom, and help me to seek Your way and purposes in Your Word. Help me to write Your Word on the tablet of my heart, so that I may know, speak, and live Your truths with faith, power, and authority. In Jesus name, amen.

"I have hidden Your Word in my heart 
that I might not sin against You."
(Psalm 119:11 NIV)

 Picture courtesy of David Beale