Day 18: Telling Ourselves the Truth – Exposing Our Unbelief

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

In the tunnels of life, we see one way out, but there are actually two. One path seeks God and the other seeks our own way.

Scripture of the Day:

Numbers 13:2, 17-20

13:2a “Send out men to investigate the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites17 When Moses sent them to investigate the land of Canaan, he told them, “Go up through the Negevand then go up into the hill country 18 and see what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, few or many, 19 and whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or fortified cities20 and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether or not there are forests in it. And be brave, and bring back some of the fruit of the land.” Now it was the time of year for the first ripe grapes. 

It is not until we are willing to examine ourselves and give our sin its worst name that we can begin to declare victory. Sin is deceitful, though, and we often do not recognize the subtleties of deception inherent in the walls of our mind.

Sometimes we can be convinced fully in our mind that we are “ok”, but we are covering over this unsettled feeling that will not let go.

The irony in the discomforts of this life is that God is using them to deliver us from self-preoccupation and into a land of promise.

Reminds me of those Israelites again.

There they were, on the edge of entering the promise land and God told them to go check it out. I wonder if he was delighting to see their joy at the blessings He had in store for them. Kind of like I get more excited than my kids to see their expressions as they see the good I have planned for them for various moments of celebration.

He sent them there when the land was full of hope – the grapes were ripe and plentiful, what a good Father. The scouts had a job to do and a choice to make. Would they focus on all the hope surrounding them, or the potential struggles? They told themselves lies. And they convinced others to believe them. God got pretty angry about it, too. Who wouldn’t? Ever prepared an amazing surprise for someone only to have them say they don’t like it?

Maybe in examining the lies they believed we might recognize our own self-deception, too.

Lie #1 – We are not able

Numbers 13:31 “We are not able to go up against these people, because they are stronger than we are”.

Huge flaw in this calculation – kind of left out the God factor here. They gave a discouraging report that focused on their strength rather than God’s and dissuaded the people from believing God.

Lie #2: Doubted God’s goodness and intentions

Numbers 14:3 “Why has the LORD brought us into this land only to be killed by the sword, that our wives and our children should become plunder?”

Ouch. The first lie focused on our inability, but the second one accused God. To say that God just wanted to bring them out to kill them. After all He had done for them. But our memories fade and we tend to forget all of the blessings when a massive thorn in our flesh comes knocking at our door.

Lie #3: Rebel against God and form our own plan.

Numbers 14:4 “So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”

The Israelites are in pretty bad shape to just say it is time to turn around and go home. Um, where was home? Living in slavery, eating onions and beaten all day? Sure sounds cozy.

They even dared to go ahead and try to claim the promised land their way – not God’s. It did not turn out so well for them.

Lies will flood our mind unless we have the truth ready to dispute it. When we are tested like the Israelites were, we have to counter those attacks with the Word of God.

Truth #1: God is with us – do not fear

Numbers 14:9 “Only do not rebel against theLord, and do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection has turned aside from them, but the Lord is with us. Do not fear them!

God demonstrated His presence over and over again, through His Word and through actions. We need to believe that He is with us and He is for us. It will be hard because reality sometimes hurts desperately. Maybe our hearts melt within us and it seems there is no way out – kind of like that tunnel image above. Closed in by our circumstances, we see one way out, but there are actually two. One path seeks God and the other seeks our own way.

Truth #2: Disbelief in God is hatred toward Him.

Numbers 14:11 “The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me, and how long will they not believe in me, in spite of the signs that I have done among them?

Sometimes the fear of the LORD is a good reminder. When we see that our disbelief is wicked in God’s sight, we need to repent and ask God for mercy, to give us faith. None of us would want to say we hate God. But disobedience is not love. As Jesus said, if we love the Father, we will do what He says.

Truth #3: He is good and His plans are good.

Numbers 14:20 “Then the Lord said, ‘I have forgiven them as you asked. 21 But truly, as I liveall the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.'”

Despite the constant disobedience of God’s children, He still forgives and redeems. His plans will not be thwarted. He is loving, long suffering, kind.

Truth #4: He sees you.

Psalm 33:13-15 “The LORD watches from heaven; he sees all people. 14 From the place where he lives he looks carefully at all the earth’s inhabitants. 15 He is the one who forms every human heart, and takes note of all their actions.” 

He rules over everything and still considers us. Wow. He saw the Israelites and He sees us. He knows our every thought and He chooses to love us, anyway.

He saw me when I felt inadequate as a wife and sat motionless in the courtroom. He knew the plans that were ahead of me that I could not see when my life was a blur. When my body felt so weak from infirmity for years on end, He spoke strength, even if I could not feel it at the time. Reality sometimes lies to us with its harsh expectations that are void of faith.

The lies come in innocently enough, sometimes cloaked in righteous garb. But we do not have to fall victim to them. We are never trapped. God has a way out that will blow our mind and restore our hope in a way we never thought possible! At the place of our devastation, there is always hope if we will just hold on and trust God.

 

 

Truthful Tuesday: The Truth Hurts

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

How will the world be able to believe the truth if it sees it shrouded in deception?

Scriptures of the Day:

Ephesians 4:25

“Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”

Colossians 3:9

“Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices.”


When someone loves you enough to be honest with you, it can hurt – for the moment. The opposite is also true – when someone is untruthful with you it can hurt – for a long time.

There is something about deceit that communicates a lack of genuine care. Choosing to protect self instead of the person we are deceiving is demeaning. It places value on ourselves over the other person’s perception of us and is a facade of who we really are.

Lying, the native tongue of the devil, has become the language of our culture, as well. The need to escape responsibility is fueled by the desire to present ourselves in the best light, even if it is not reality. But living in a false fantasy is not comforting in the end and makes truth foreign, almost indistinguishable. Far removed from reality, we can lose sight of what is really important in this life.

Assuredly lies would be far away from the Christian’s mouth, right? Hopefully most Christians would see that lying is a sin condemned by God and seek to be obedient in this aspect of their walk with God, but there are many levels of deceit that we need to guard against. If our hearts our deceitful and beyond cure, then we might not even realize we are lying and being deceived ourselves.

The spectrum of deceit begins with embellishment or polishing of facts to make them more palatable to the hearer. It might be as simple as flattery (which works ruin) or slightly altering the facts to make a story more exciting. Or maybe deceit can be a fudging of the facts and an ethical compromise that we think no one else sees. Our conscience sold for a small perceived victory or famed reputation. These might seem harmless in a small matter that we think just involves ourselves or is just about vanity, but this habit can begin to penetrate our conscience and dumb down conviction in the area of honesty.

Beyond the polishing of facts, we can enable deceit by giving it righteous garb – it is ok to lie in this instance, because we are protecting someone else and that person would be hurt. Ironically, the prevention of pain is not accomplished, for when deceit is revealed, the deceived feels betrayed and has lost the ability to trust to some degree.

Then there is the savage all out lying to protect self. Just flat out making up stories to avoid consequences. This might make the liar feel accomplished to be able to “pull one over” on the victim of their deceit, but sadly, they are the one deceived. If a deceiver is able to trick others into trusting him, is that really something to boast about – trying to make others believe we are something we are not?

True character can never be faked. Being who God made us to be is sometimes humbling, but all the time freeing. There is no need to try to be something more because we are accepted by a Holy God just as we are. Wow. No need to add to that, and if we did, it would be filthy in God’s eyes. He alone is our righteousness and truth.

The motivation to lie is crushed and the fruit of lying exposed when we realize that doing so hurts our relationship with God and others. Lying destroys intimacy and God made us to enjoy relationships where we can be fully known and accepted for who we are. The very people who love us no matter what deserve truth from our lips. It might mean a loving rebuke, but what a gift that is to the condoning of sin, which destroys us.

From outright lies to a calloused heart who cannot even distinguish between truth and falsehood anymore, we must surround ourselves with people who are willing to impart truth into our lives and constantly put truth into our hearts through the word of God.

The beautiful feeling of conviction from the Holy Spirit is like no other. We are both humbled and grateful when we can see and understand truth and our desperate need of it. The church and Christians must rid themselves of deception and speak the truth to one another, for we carry the Truth and are all members of one body. How will the world be able to believe the truth if it sees it shrouded in deception?

Lord, thank You for revealing sin in our lives and showing us our need of You. There is no truth in us apart from Your grace. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit, guiding us into all truth. Keep falsehood far from us and help us to guard and walk in Your truth all the days of our lives – especially when it hurts.

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass | Author | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

http://www.seeingdeep.com

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Three: The Law

Gift of Gods law

 

Psalm 19:7

“The law of the LORD is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the LORD are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.”

John 1:17

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ.”

This Christmas, when we think about getting what we want, I am thankful that God in His wisdom does not always give us what we want.  Further, in His mercy, He did not give us what we really deserve – His judgment.

We are all rule breakers in one way or another, often rationalizing our weaknesses away, but God’s righteous standard is held.  He does not leave us in a state of deception, but opens our eyes through His perfect law found in His Word, revealing our sin and need for a Savior.

What a gift – absolute truth – steady, unchanging and Holy in a chaotic relevant world.  In a culture that demands its own way and makes laws to condone its sin, there still stands a righteous standard.

Many feel that this standard set by God steals our freedom and joy, but no greater freedom has anyone than the one who can see his sin that shackles him and can walk away from it.

Even though we could never fulfill God’s commandments perfectly, God in His sovereignty and mercy fulfilled it for us.  His law brought condemnation so we could see our need of Him.

As we visualize ourselves opening these gifts that You have given us, Lord, help us to see Your law at work in our lives and to submit ourselves to Your will in every area of our lives.

 

 

Mundane Monday: The Purpose of the Law

Photo credits: pinterest

Photo credits: pinterest

1 Timothy 1:5-8

5 “But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 6 Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently. 8 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately.”

Psalm 119:30

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.”

Here it is a Monday again.  The day-in, day-out drudgery of the work week awaits us as we open our eyes to a new week.  Well, that is one perspective.  Another viewpoint is one of gratitude.  Today is Labor Day and today I thank God for the gift of work and for a mission He has called each of us to.  We are blessed to have work and blessed to be able to work.  Work is one of the occupations God gave us to do in His sovereign wisdom that sometimes our flesh resists, much like the laws He has in place, which is the topic today for all of us rule breakers at heart.

Laws.  Deemed as spoilers by some, a means to judge others or of self-righteousness to some, and to still others a moment of grace – of seeing our need for salvation once we see within ourselves the inability to perfectly adhere to God’s law.

Everywhere there are signs of mankind’s desire for no limits.  What is it about rules that sparks a seed of rebellion in our hearts and deceives a people?  To some, breaking rules seems like freedom.  We are doing what we want to do.  Or are we?  The irony of submitting to our fleshly desires is that in doing what we want to do, we become a taskmaster for our own destruction.

The limits set in place by an all-wise, all-knowing God are intended for our benefit.  In our deception we strive for what we perceive is a thing of beauty – no accountability, no hindrance of following someone else’s idea, and yet that pursuit is what becomes our prison, after all.

It is so beautiful that the aim of God’s laws and instruction is love.  God is not a spoiler of fun.  Sin destroys us and He wants us to be in relationship with Him – not separated from Him.  He hates to see us suffer from poor choices made at the altar of the gods of self and pleasure.

We are all subject to God’s laws, universal and spiritual, whether or not we want to be.  No one escapes the law of gravity, and while some might escape the consequences of disobeying civil or spiritual laws for a season, seared consciences are the penalty borne and ultimately all deeds will be judged by the Perfect law maker and giver, Jesus Christ.

A rule breaker can be deemed as “cool” by the world and a rule keeper seen as “prudish”, but it is how one keeps the law that matters.  Just as rebellion is not acceptable in the sight of God, neither is legalism.  Rationalizing which rules are important and which ones are not also does not change the premise of walking in the liberty of following God’s laws regarding ethics, big or small laws.

Our flesh does not like to be held accountable or to have to conform to someone else’s plan, and yet His plan is best.  We want our way, and yet God beautifully has designed a structure of leadership and accountability that ultimately provides care for those who will submit to His leadership.

People can use laws for their own ends, manipulating the original intent in an attempt to justify their actions.  But inside a voice cries out for truth and righteousness if we listen.  Breaking rules does not bring the peace of God nor satisfy the heart cry of our soul.  God’s loving and perfect laws are safe boundaries He designed that are kept and fulfilled only by the grace of God.

Lord, thank you for revealing our need for your salvation.  Help us to love the boundaries You have so wisely set in our lives.  May we resist the flesh and live lives for Your glory.

The Options Before Us

Isaiah 1:18

“Come, let’s consider your options,” says the LORD. “Though your sins have stained you like the color red, you can become white like snow; though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet, you can become white like wool.” (NET)

Isaiah 6:5-8

“I said, ‘Too bad for me! I am destroyed, for my lips are contaminated by sin, and I live among people whose lips are contaminated by sin. My eyes have seen the king, the LORD who commands armies.’ 6 But then one of the seraphs flew toward me. In his hand was a hot coal he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Look, this coal has touched your lips. Your evil is removed; your sin is forgiven.’ 8 I heard the voice of the sovereign master say, “Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?” I answered, ‘Here I am, send me!'”  (NET)

I love the wording of the NET Bible version in Isaiah 1:18 – “Come, let’s consider your options” – not much of a decision there, really.  Either be covered in sin and condemned to hell, or be covered with Christ’s blood, forgiven and go to Heaven. For such an obvious choice, so many miss it.  Why?  Deception.  Ignorance.  Rebellion. Election.

The master deceiver does his job well.  Many tools lie in his arsenal – condemnation, oppression, distraction, busyness, anything to keep us from seeing our need for salvation.  But we can contribute to our own deception by remaining in ignorance.  Laziness helps our ignorance along if we expect God’s truth to be spoon fed to us rather than seeking Him.

Our rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, but we often sanitize our sins to make them acceptable.  Excuses can abound to make one avoid accountability.  This is not surprising, because our flesh’s natural disposition is to avoid doing anything that requires facing something potentially ugly in ourselves.  Why?  Our pride and self esteem might be injured.  (You probably picked up on the sarcasm there).  Or we want to be our own master, assert our independence.  Every person I have known who rebelled and craved independence regrets that decision later.  But still something in us craves “freedom” from anyone’s control, which can cramp our style and choices, even if those choices harm us and separate us from fellowship with our loving God.  Rebellion is actually insanity – What or who are we rebelling from?  The One Who offers us true unconditional acceptance – why run away from that?

Ultimately, in God’s sovereignty, He already knows who belongs to Him before we even have our eyes opened to understand that we need saving.  Where is our responsibility, then?  We are unique in all of God’s creation, in that we have reasoning and free will.  When God’s plan of salvation is shared, people have a choice – to accept this great salvation or to reject it.  Yet even in that choice it is solely the grace of God that enables us to make that choice.

Isaiah was humbled and desperate for his sins to be removed when confronted with God’s Holiness in comparison to his wretched sinful condition.  His response could only be to throw himself upon the mercy of God.  His sins atoned for, Isaiah exuberantly pronounced, “Here I am! Send me!”.  I want to have this same wonder and amazement over God’s salvation every day of every year.  May He help us to have the same zeal to help others recognize and receive the gift of eternal life.

Lord, help us to see how very vile we are apart from Your loving grace and salvation.  Thank you, dear sweet LORD, for opening my eyes to see and know You and to choose the best option of my life.  I did not deserve it, I never will – but please help me to never forget how great a salvation You have given and to live worthy of this amazing gift.  Amen.

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

2 Thessalonians 2:8-12

… and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival. 9 The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, 10 and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. 11 Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false12 And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned

Romans 1:18-25

18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, 19 because what can be known about God is plain to thembecause God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.  24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

The enemy of our souls will one day meet his demise – simply by the LORD’s presence – but not before he launches a vicious campaign, trying to deceive the whole world.  God is so good to warn us of the enemy’s attacks, but mankind can be deaf and blind to them.  We do not have to be surprised; though we will not know the very hour, we can know the season. How is it, then, that people would choose death and destruction?  Why would we ever choose to accept lies instead of God’s truth?  Can we blame the enemy who deceived us?  Eve tried that one, too.  No, we must realize that we are given free will and the opportunity to choose life or death, which are before us.

Some may question our culpability when reading the rest of this passage from Thessalonians.  God influenced them to believe the lies – but not before they first chose to.  They cannot say they did not know, because the passage above in Romans clearly shows how mankind knew the truth and suppressed it.  These verses humble me to walk in the fear of the LORD.  There is nothing in me that would make me right with God, save His grace alone.  I am forever grateful that He chose to open my eyes to understand His Word and to know Him.

The scripture above says that the cause for the people’s perishing is because they “found no place in their hearts for the truth”.  Why was there no place for God in their hearts and what did they make room for in their hearts?  Things that did not matter for eternity; lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and boastful pride of life filled their hearts and minds.  Our hearts, too, can be crowded and burdened with all that beckons to distract us from the One thing needful – a relationship with God.  We must rule our hearts and prepare Him room.  But our very hearts are deceitful – what then (Jeremiah 17:9)?  Where is hope when we are surrounded and occupied by an enemy (our flesh) inside?  It is this very knowledge that can free us.

Knowing the truth about our hearts can set us free.  Placing confidence in God and His word, not our flesh, not our hearts, is making Him room.  Choosing to believe the One Who is truth personified, versus believing the One Who is known as the Master Deceiver, is the path to eternal life.  Seems like a simple choice, right?  But our heart of flesh can be strong and we will often have to go against very persuasive feelings which betray God’s Word.  Although satan’s deceit is powerful to twist the truth, God’s truth is all-powerful to change hearts, and illumine the truth to our eyes.  Today we have a choice set before us . . . make way for the Messiah!

Lord, help us to daily, moment by moment, to seek You first.  May our lives not become too crowded, lest we forget our real life’s purpose – to know You and glorify You.  Our hearts are all laid before You, Master.  Help us to turn others from the path of deception toward an eternal life with You!  Amen.