3 Keys to Find Healing after Conflict - Part 1

A horse was shot twice with a crossbow and survived after four fellow mares spent three hours taking turns licking the wound clean. The 20-year-old horse, Zeta, was in critical condition after one of the arrows bounced off her rib, while another lodged an inch from her lung as she grazed in a field in the U.K.

Zeta's owner, Jo Young, said the four other horses saved Zeta’s life. It was really touching that when she was found the other horses in the field were nuzzling her for comfort and licking the wound,” Young said. They kept the wound clean which would have prevented it from being infected by bacteria. It also helped to stem the blood flow….There was definitely a herd instinct kicking in among the horses. They knew Zeta was in need and they rallied round to save her,” he said.

 Paul wrote to the Corinthians and encouraged them to display the same care one to another, “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).  Source: The Sun, May, 18, 2010…Submitted by Bill Prater

 

Comforting each other will often require uncomfortable situations — to comfort will require confronting ourselves

What keeps you from comforting another and encouraging a discipleship relationship?  Is the other person too grumpy? Is the situation too dangerous? Would the person in need require too much time away from personal pursuits? The obvious, but vital question is this — where would the Lord want us to invest our time? James 1:27

Barnabas must confront himself and others before he will truly comfort Saul.

Look at Acts 9:26-27. Saul is in a challenging position right now.  He is newly saved and baptized (Acts 9:18).  He has preached in the synagogue and has confounded the Jews in Damascus …leaving these Jews unable to argue against Saul’s preaching of the Messiah (Acts 9:19-22).

Do you remember when it was announced that Donald Trump was elected president? You may seen an online video of a person knelt down in the streets, weeping, and screaming “Noooo!” This was all done in response to the announcement of Donald Trump as the new president. This scream was as though a young family member was just murdered right in front of their eyes.  Every election cycle there is a president elected that someone doesn’t like. So, while the outcome of this election was not unique (a president someone didn’t like was elected), the response was shockingly immature and very public. A bystander recorded this unbelievable event and posted it online.  We could say there is an extreme lack of emotional maturity in this situation.  It is even reminiscent of a 3 or 4-year-old child screaming in the aisles of a department store because their parent told them they would not buy that toy or that bag of candy.

 In arguments among mature people, we are often able to agree to disagree and then go our separate ways.  However, in Acts 9:23 the Jews in Damascus who clearly did not win the debate with Saul over ‘Jesus the man’ verses ‘Jesus the Messiah’ --- were conspiring together on how they might commit murder!  These Jews hated Jesus.  Saul had now  exposed their foundations and assertions regarding Jesus as false. Saul became their new target. 

Think about it!  JESUS had many followers, the Jewish spiritual leaders became envious, and they murdered Jesus — the One who did no crime as the worst of criminals.  Perhaps they thought that would quiet the masses? After all, intimidation has often been and continues to be an effective means to an end...even though it is very faulty.  STEPHEN then spoke up in Jerusalem and they stoned him.  Many others remained faithful to Jesus and they threw them into jail.  Things were getting out of control, but they had Saul.  Saul was an extremely well-educated man who aggressively began to do all he could to stamp out these followers of Jesus.  He left his mark in Jerusalem, and now he has orders from the chief priests to do the same in Damascus.  But something happened on his way to Damascus – Saul. Gets. Saved. Now, their biggest champion has become their great opponent.   Their envy nurtured their bitterness & anger.  Such bitterness and anger moved them to malice (wanting to do someone harm)!

It goes on — the problem for Saul is double fold!  The disciples also don’t want anything to do with him. He probably feels himself to be the enemy of all and the friend of none. The Jews wanted to kill him, so he escapes to Damascus (over the walls at night – Acts 9:25).  Galatians 1:17-18 tells us he then went to Arabia, and even returned to Damascus at some point.  It wasn’t until three years later that Saul returns to Jerusalem (the scene of his original persecution campaign against the church) and the disciples were still afraid of him and still didn’t trust him (Acts 9:26).  Why, after 3 years, are the disciples still afraid of Saul and refuse to trust him?

  •  Because, they continue to remember his violence against the believers…their good friends and family members.

  •  They have not seen him for 3 years.  They only remember their last contact with him. The passing of time does not solve past conflict. It must be confronted to find healing.

God then brings Barnabas forward for such a time as this. Let’s look at the first key to find healing after conflict —-

  1. Fear Must Look Right (Fear God…not man)

“…all afraid of him and believed not.”  (Acts 9:26)

Can you imagine a husband wanting to regain a relationship with his wife after verbally abusing her or after physically threatening their children?  She could readily forgive him, but it would take time to regain her trust.  Rebuilding trust would take time and consistent new behaviors.  It would require a transformation from the inside out evidenced over the passing of time.

God does something very special here.  He sends Barnabas to speak on Saul’s behalf.  Someone who the disciples trusted needed to step in and recommend Saul as a co-laborer. Do you realize what this means?

The Lord is expecting the disciples to forgive Saul and begin to trust him again…even after all he had done! 

 

When we deal with those who have hurt us, we need to begin with forgiveness.  Then, the rebuilding of trust must begin. This is a long process that requires patience for everyone involved. In part, this journey needs to look like this…

How are you approaching the relationships that have hurt you?  This is a difficult journey. Significant conflict usually comes from those with whom you have a close relationship. Whether it is your own family, your past church experiences from years gone by, your co-workers, or even your own spouse – where are you on the journey of rebuilding relationship with a truly repentant believer?  Have you been trying to start the process of healing after conflict for many years? It does take time to rebuild trust, but it cannot happen unless we begin the journey.  Saul’s relationship with the disciples would never be the same as it was before his offenses.  It actually…eventually… became better.

3 More Responses of Courage that follows God

This blog post is continued from the July 29, 2019 entry entitled, “2 Responses of Courage that Follows God.”  This post is the ongoing examination of God’s call to Ananias to go to Saul, the persecutor (Acts 9).

His situation was Questionable.

Acts 9:13-14. Years ago I was the pastor of a small church. We were in the process of handing out fliers for some evangelistic outreach held at our church. When I returned to the office, I retrieved a voice mail that threatened a bullet between my eyes the next time I put a flier on his door. Thankfully, I had caller ID. I have had various threats over my 27 years of pastoral ministry. It causes one to stop and think. Do I embrace fear or trust God to continue doing what He commands?

Ananias had reasonable human fears.  Saul was a wicked man!  Saul had the legal power to do great harm!  Saul has thrown other Christians into jail!!  God calms Ananias’ fears with assurance of His plan. Ananias’ fears are calmed by God’s words.  Let’s remind ourselves what the Bible, God’s Word, says about fear.

Stop for a moment and rehearse the truth…rehears the Word of God.

II Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sound mind.”

 

I John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.  He that fearth is no made perfect in love.”

 

Psalm 56:3, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”

Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

 Rest from our fears is found in the calming voice of God’s Word.

He was Consolable.

Acts 9: 12, 15-16. Ananias was teachable and willing to follow God.  He voiced his fears to God and the Lord confirmed to Jonah that this was His plan.

The Old Testament prophet Jonah had a scary situation to face as well – go to Nineveh (a violent & godless city) and preach coming judgment and needed repentance.  Jonah ran.  Ananias yielded.  Jonah’s fears overtook His view of God.  He could not see God’s goodness.  Nineveh’s reputation of violence and godless living consumed Jonah’s thoughts so that He could not see God’s goodness…and without a view of God’s goodness, Jonah could not trust the Lord and take a step of courage to follow the Lord’s call. Jonah could not listen to reason!  He became unteachable when considering the reputation of Nineveh. We must sharpen our view of our good God – and embrace a teachable spirit – to take steps of courage as a “God focused…Others minded” believer! 

He was Movable.

Acts 9:17. Ananias didn’t delay.  He moved forward to what God lead Him to do.

What keeps us from moving forward to reaching others?  Sure, it will be hard at times!  There will be times of:

  • Hurt feelings

  • Broken Trust

  • One way relationship efforts

  • Exhaustion

  • Doubt

  • Frustration…and these are just a few of the things OTHERS are dealing with regarding our relationship with THEM! 

The point is — we are all imperfect.  We all struggle.  BUT -- we are all commanded to: “love one another” … “edify one another” … “bear one another’s burdens.” 

 The bar is high.  Are we so stubborn or selfish that we refuse to follow Christ on this?  Why do we think God said to Joshua in Joshua 1:6, “Be strong and of good courage…?” And then again in 1:7, “Only be thou strong and very courageous…”  What God calls us to isn’t a life of ease, comfort, and self-focus. He calls us to think of others AND lead these to greater relationship with Him… and He gives us His enabling grace to do it.

Access God’s grace by faith today (Romans 5:2) and choose to help others – regardless of their appearance, reputation, or background – …and help them add to their faith (II Peter 1:4-7).

3 Places Self-Control Isn't

If your child said, “I couldn’t control myself...I just had to eat the entire chocolate cake (it was begging me to eat it!!)” ...or “I couldn’t help myself, I just had to punch Bubba Bates in the face, kick him in the shin, and then push his face in the mud.” What would you have said as the parent? The immense lack of self-control here is astounding. Although some adults may reason in their minds, “Bubba” probably deserved it. Stop and consider that line of thinking for a moment. Can you imagine what your child, with this lack of self-control, would become as a 30 year old husband, father, co-worker…or Christian? Similar illustrations could be drawn for a young girl demonstrating such a lack of self-control as well. Consider what your little girl with little self-control would be like as a 30 year old in the similar roles listed above? Do you think your child may have a co-worker, neighbor, or another adult believer dish out behavior “worthy” of such responses?

The truth is, we are all surrounded by unfair or unkind treatment by others…but God doesn’t call us to “teach them all a lesson!” Today, this lack of self-control is abundantly demonstrated by opposing opinions at political events or speeches on social issues at college campuses. This is already a real problem today! Considering this character trait from a purely secular view for just a moment, our young people are lacking strength of character. They cannot handle someone disagreeing with them or embracing an opposing viewpoint. The lack of character then illustrates itself profusely in manifestations of little to no self-control (i.e.- a small mob beating up one man - 7 or more people against 1 - for wearing a Trump hat or shirt…no discussion, just attacking him as he walks by). This is a huge problem! The church must be the model of character that makes the difference!

I hope this helps us all picture the need of self-control as a vital character trait. But it is much more than a simple character trait — it is part of our spiritual growth as children of God. Yet, whether we agree or not with the above illustrations, the Bible is clear when it comes to self control (temperance). II Peter 1:5-6, says,

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

We are instructed to add to our faith. We are to add to our faith moral purity, spiritual discernment, and self-control (to name just the first three named in II Peter 1). Spiritual Growth will show changes in stronger self-control. This is the holding of passions and desires in line. The standard is indeed set HIGH! The Holy Spirit makes this possible.

How do you view your level of self-control? Is your self-perceived spiritual growth demonstrating stronger self-control?

1. What is your speech like?

  • Are you praising God on Sunday and taking His name in vain on Tuesday? Are you expressing thankfulness to a friend and then rehearsing complaints about your spouse, neighbor, or co-worker? James 3:8-10 reminds us that this double-minded speech ought not be how we speak!

2. How are your emotional responses?

...do you have a temper? ...are you quick to "shutdown" when your plans are derailed? ...do you become easily offended or assume the worst after a brief encounter with someone? ...can you handle criticism so you can learn and grow past your blind spots? …do you resort to blame shifting, intimidation, and/or manipulation when confronted with a personal short-coming?

3. Do you make impulse decisions

  • ...do you interrupt a lot? ...do you follow the rules one day and ignore the rules the next day? ...do you struggle with "calming down" to do the work you need to do?  …do you often make decisions with little consideration for others in your life or the possible negative outcomes?

This issue of self-control is lacking in college students (and younger), but it is also lacking in the adults the young people follow (some of which we have a hard time recognizing in our own mirrors). Before we excuse away this issue of the lack of self-control in society (and our churches)…as something that doesn’t apply to us…take a moment and study these Bible passages below.

May we ask God to examine our own heart and help us to see the truth about ourselves.

Proverbs 25:28, "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."


Titus 2:6; James 1:20, "Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded…For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."


I Peter 5:8, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."


Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith meekness, temperance…"

2 Responses of Courage that follows God

A man once bragged that he had cut off the tail of a man-eating lion with his pocket knife. When asked why he had not cut off the lion's head, the man replied: “Someone has already done that.”  (Source: Unknown) 

This is not true courage; however, true courage is needed to obey. Courage is found in Jesus through His enabling grace!

Take a moment and ready Acts 9:10-17. It is the story of God calling Ananias to help a new believer. This new believer’s name was Saul (the persecutor…of Christians).

Ananias was a key leader in the early NT church of Jerusalem; however, he wasn’t THE key leader.  Ananias would be used to help establish key leadership that would rise above him.

We are ALL needed in the body of Christ!  Everyone has different roles -- but all are part of God’s plan, God called, and God enabled!  What are you doing right now in the local church?  Are you doing more than warming a bench?  I guarantee you God has more for you, if you are willing…willing to serve your Savior.

 

The job God had for Ananias was not easy.  It was actually scary! 

I recently had someone ask what the possible outcomes of following God would be, before they were willing to consider following God.  No one can tell you that. Only God knows the answers to such questions. Believer, we don’t get to see 5 days or 5 years down the path before saying yes to taking a step of faith.  We follow God by faith (not by sight), no matter where He leads us. God led Esther to the throne room, David to a giant, Nathaniel to confront an adulterer, Daniel to a lion’s den, Jonah to a violent & godless city, and Elijah to confront an idolater ruler.

When we struggle with following God by faith – we struggle with trusting God because we don’t see or remember He is good. 

Let’s take a look at Ananias’ response to God’s call to help someone he wouldn’t naturally want to help.

 

He was available.

Acts 9:10. Remember the days when you sat in class as a child, the teacher asked a question to which you knew the answer? It was exciting to know the answer! So, your hand would go in the air, waving it widely in the hopes that your teacher would choose you…and to add a special piece of flare you would be heard saying something like, “Ooo!  Ooo!”

 God calls Ananias and Ananias says, “I’m here, Lord.” Look at his response to God’s call.

  • His response was immediate. Ananias answered when God called. He didn’t wait until a better time for his schedule or when he was ready. Ananias responded when God called.

 

  • His response was respectful. Ananias didn’t roll his eyes or think, “Oh, no! What does God want this time?”

 

  • His response was ready. Simply put — Ananias was ready to go to do what God asked of him. Ananias trusted God, but to trust God, he had to believe God is good.

 

He was Usable.

Acts 9:11. Have you ever gone to the gym and seen those guys flexing their muscles for 5 minutes as they stare at themselves in the weight room mirrors? They do that because they are impressed with their progress. They are pleased with how strong they are and how much stronger they are becoming!

God equipped Ananias for what God called him to do.  I am sure Ananias felt weak for such a task.  He even spoke of his fears to God in this passage!

It is not about my abilities and what I know I can or want to do.  It is about what God calls me to do and enables me by His grace.  The problem is never ability…the problem is a willing heart. It is always God who gives the strength.

Availability and Usability are two crucial responses of courage to following God. Take some time to consider how these look in your life today.

3 Bullseyes to Hit: What is your target for growing faith?

Please note: This post is part 1 of several posts that will come at the beginning of each month. Although regular weekly posts will continue on various passages of scripture (after a brief summer break), the continuation of the study of II Peter 1:5-7 will be posted only on the first week of each month until this Bible study is completed. ALSO, Pastor Holloway will be taking a break from weekly blog posts from July 14 to July 27. The next blog post will be July 29.

GROWING FAITH

From time to time we see relatives that we haven’t seen for awhile.  The inevitable comments that come forth are something like: “the kids have grown so much!” … “They are so tall!” …  “They look so mature!” Not to state the obvious, but the fact of life is we all tend to grow (in height or width) over time as we mature.

Faith will grow in a maturing believer.  When we hear this statement, we are often drawn to thoughts of “how big” our faith is. Some have even approached me to say their faith just isn’t big enough! Faith needs to be only as big as a mustard seed (very small) to be useful (Matthew 17:20). However, it’s frequency of use and length of use grow over a dispensation of greater spiritual maturity. So, your spiritual maturity is connected to how long and how often you are willing to trust God (exercise your faith).

“Faith is not only illumination but character.” — expositors Greek Testament.  


What does the target of growing faith look like?

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”

II Peter 1:5-7

  1. Be Purposeful

Consider a believer’s growing faith described in II Peter 1. This epistle declares that this growing faith is filled with purposeful action. Such faith is not an automatic outcome of salvation! The first phrase says, “...giving all diligence...” — II Peter 1:5 tells us to add to God’s precious promises our own diligence. That is an important motivation. Stop. Rehearse some of the promises of God. Remember those very precious promises?

Keep God’s precious, powerful, and personal promises in mind — and with these in mind — add to your faith with all diligence! Spiritual Growth ought to be earnest, diligent … consistently pursued (Jeremiah 29:13). Spiritual growth is a purposeful action.


2. Be Highly Moral


The second phrase in II Peter 1:5 is “...add to your faith virtue.…” Spiritual Growth ought to be highly moral. (Ephesians 5:1-4). Profanity is not “French” that a person often asks others to pardon … living with a person in immorality is not acceptable because everyone’s doing it … dressing immodestly is not okay because it is fashionable…killing human beings (abortion) is the choice to remove the consequences of our life decisions by removing the choice of a helpless /weak human being to live. These examples of the lack of morality are signs of the lack of spiritual maturity! A growing believer allows the Word of God to determine their moral high ground...our own standard doesn’t stretch us in continued growth, nor does it liken us to our Savior’s image.


3. Be Discerning


The last phrase we will look at in II Peter 1:5 for this blog post is — “...add to your virtue knowledge.…” Spiritual growth shows discernment. It is more than mere facts or truths acquired from scripture. There must be an understanding of God’s will...of what is right and what is wrong. This discernment grows as the believer’s knowledge of the Word of God grows — AND the believer’s willing yielded heart to apply those learned truths acts on those truths.


In chapter 11 of the book of Nehemiah, the children of Israel had finished rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and they were now preparing for the dedication of these newly rebuilt walls. Prior to this dedication service, Nehemiah employed the casting of lots to determine who among the people of Israel would relocate to Jerusalem. 1/10th of the nation would be chosen to relocate. It would be a sacrifice to move from what they had known and also to move into an area that had been filled with rumors of wars. In addition to the casting of lots, there were actually some who volunteered to relocate to the city of Jerusalem before their name had been called. This was true patriotism. These individuals believed in their nation, loved their nation, and loved their God. It was on the sacrifices of these people that the nation of Israel continued to go forward.

On July 4 we celebrated our independence day. Freedom from tyranny. Freedom of religion. We as a nation stand on the sacrifices made from yesterday for our today. The sacrifices that we make today will be what our children stand on for their tomorrow.

The same is true for the church. The sacrifices we make as children of God… for the cause of Christ… will make a vital impact on the church’s tomorrow. Our continued spiritual growth is vital! We are not called to sit on the benches of the church. We are not called to just simply cheer others on. We are called to actively change... grow in our faith with greater discernment, greater morality, and greater consistent pursuit of our God.

We are familiar with the heroes of the faith from days gone by. Believers who added to their faith to make an impact on the world in which they lived. Men and women of the faith, like: William Carey, Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, Jim & Elizabeth Elliott, John & Betty Stam, William Tyndale, Darlene Diebler Rose, Corrie Ten Boom, and many more! Look around you…are you one of today’s faith heroes for tomorrow’s church?

The Root of Covetousness & 3 Reasons We Do It

Some wish they had their friend’s friends – or their friend’s job. Some want their friend’s parents as their parents. Some wish they had a specific different spouse. Where does it all end?!  Better yet – where does it all begin?!

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.” — Exodus 20:17

To covet is to rehearse the greedy desire of that which is another’s property. This can be through deceitful and even violent means.

Consider the pathway of the 10 commandments that brought us to this command. Commandments six, seven, and eight forbid us to injure others with our actions. Commandment nine forbids us to injure another with our words. Then, at the conclusion of this historic, well-known passage, we are commanded not to injure another in our thoughts!

Wow. A high calling indeed…but there is a catch. To covet is to sin in one’s heart. No one else sees that sin — except, of course, the Lord. In fact, all things are open and naked before the Lord…there is no hiding the truth from Him! Luke 12:15-21. ..and then there’s one more catch — covetousness is the root of all sin in word or deed (James 1:13-15).

This command is crucial. Covetousness is a root sin problem. So, the ten commandments end with this strong imperative — Do not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor! Here’s the problem: we covet many things that belong to our neighbors!

 

Why do I do this?

Over 15 years ago, my family & I served as the pastor of a church plant in CO, almost everyone referred to directions with the terms: North, South, East, and West.  It was a little adjustment, but once you realized that the mountains were in the WEST – you were fine.  However, on a cloud covered day the mountains would be covered as well.  It was surprising how fast you could get turned around in a new area when you lost sight of the mountain range!

 

When we lose sight of the Word of God…when we lose sight of God’s standard – thus, loosing sight of the reasons why we do what we do…we will get quickly get turned around and not realize why or how we got to where we are in our walk with God!

 

I don’t know why I covet…I just do it! Sound familiar?

Here’s some help…the Bible tells us why! Slow down and study these 3 REASONS FOR COVETOUS CHOICES. Since this sin is connected at the root to other sin in our lives, we need to understand where we are before we are able to understand how to get to a new and better location in life!

1.      It is a struggle of my own heart – Mark 7:20-22 – Have you ever said, “I don’t know where that came from” when referring to sinful choices? It came from your heart. Covetousness proceeds from within. It comes from the heart of man.  Guard your heart from wrong thinking. Clean up your heart from wrong choices of the past. Nurture/grow your heart for a more peaceful, encouraging tomorrow!

 

2.      It is a part of my flesh nature – Romans 1:28-29 – covetousness is part of our flesh nature.  Covetousness is NOT of God!  It is part of my old sin nature and I need to make the consistent choice to step away from this sin. Do you feel like, “that’s too hard?!” You are right. We are weak. It is, however, in our own weakness that God’s strength is made perfect. II Corinthians 12:9. So, access that marvelous, matchless grace of God by faith and pursue the victory He gave you at the time of salvation! Romans 5:2. I Corinthians 15:57.

 

3.      A Predicted Outcome – II Timothy 3:1-2 – this sin (along with others) is descriptive of the last days – men will be covetous.  This sin will become more dominant the closer we come to the Lord’s return. The church must stand up, stand firm, and stand by God’s grace!

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of kings.

— William Pierson Merrill (1911)

What other sin is this linked to?

I recently took our Honda mini-van to an auto-body shop for an estimate to take care of what I believed to be a small spot of rust over the wheel.  The owner came out and took one look at the rust and shook his head (not a good sign). He looked under the wheel well, and then said the estimate would be too high to even consider for a vehicle with this many miles.  What I thought…hoped…would be a couple hundred – would actually cost 1,000’s!

 

What is the estimate for the sin of covetousness?  We have a tendency to estimate the cost of covetousness to be low or non-consequential.    It’s not that bad…is it?  It is!

 

Colossians 3:5 – covetousness is linked to idolatry, which links the 10th command to the first command.  The Lord goes full circle!  He starts with idolatry and connects the last command to idolatry.  No matter what shape or size it comes in…the Lord is NOT okay with idolatry! Perhaps some might think, “I am only coveting something. It isn’t that big of a sin.” Would we embrace the same philosophy with idolatry (rethink the book of Judges and the cost of idolatry for the children of Israel)?

 

Luke 12:15 -- USER BEWARE! The gospel of Luke gives a warning label for covetousness.

 Don’t you love the user beware warnings on labels?  I found these particularly interesting. I always enjoy something that will put a smile on my face…

  • Can of air freshener: use by trained personnel only

  • On children’s cough medicine: do not drive a car or operate heavy machinery after taking this med (what child is driving heavy machinery??)

  • On a hair dryer: do not use while sleeping

  • On a clothes iron: do not iron clothes on body

  • On a “Fire Log:” risk of fire

 

When we ignore the warnings of God, we place ourselves in the very danger God knows is in that path. We think we are running to fun, but we are really running from satisfaction in God.  Luke 12:15.  User beware!!  God’s warning label declares there is much more to life than the accumulation of things!!

 

 Where did this all begin?

The “locating satellite” sign on a GPS can be a huge problem for the traveler.  If your GPS cannot find a satellite, and you don’t have a handheld map in your hands, you won’t know how to get to point B until your GPS finds your current location -- “point A.” 

My wife and I stopped at a gas station on the way home from Eau Claire, WI last week. There was an older man with a map in his hand, approaching different people at the gas pumps, asking if they knew the layout of the area.  I thought to myself…that’s something I haven’t seen in a long time…a person looking at a handheld map!  That older man didn’t have any problems with his GPS trying to find a satellite! 

 

How are we going to find victory over covetousness and move on to “point B” …unless we know where we currently stand – “point A.”  We cannot move on from the sin of covetousness until we understand where we truly stand and how we got there!

 

Where’s the root of covetousness?

When you look down at the bottom of the root of covetousness you will find dissatisfaction. Hebrews 13:5. The struggle of covetousness is directly connected to dissatisfaction over the presence of God in your life.  It is as though, God is not enough — as though I need something more! It sounds outrageous to say the all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present, unchanging, one true holy God isn’t enough for me…and that I would prefer something limited, changing, imperfect, and inconsistent to meet my longings. We may not phrase it that way, but that is the exchange we chose to make with covetousness.

 

I Timothy 6:7-8 – Did you read that? I am talking about the I Timothy 6 passage. It is obvious to most (if not all of us), yet we often struggle with practicing this truth. We ought not live (in life OR in our mind) as though the things of this life will go into eternity with us…we cannot lose sight of what we do have in exchange for what we wish we had.  This doesn’t mean we ought not have nice things. or that it is sinful to have nice things. It means we ought not live for nice things!

 

Discontentment is at the root of covetousness…unbelief will drive you to discontentment!

So, reconsider your thinking….

  • I know the Bible says, “God is love,” but I don’t think anyone loves me.

  •  I know the Bible says to tithe, but that’s not how I want to use my money.

  •  I know the Bible says to memorize scripture and pray, but I don’t think that really makes a big difference – and I really don’t have time or I really can’t do it very well.

  •  I know the Bible says not to lie, but if I don’t lie I’ll be in big trouble.

  •  I know the Bible says to have no other gods before Him, but I really prefer to spend time with my friends, or family, or hunting, or playing sports, or working than to go to church on Sunday or to serve Him.

 

Proverbs 29:25; Psalm 125:1 trusting the Lord is a safe and happy place to rest!

  1. Trusting God guards against discontent

  2. Trusting God nurtures satisfaction in God

  3. Satisfaction in God guards against covetousness

A few years ago, a man in Detroit stepped out into his back yard, and looking up saw a speck in the sky. It grew larger and larger. Then he discovered it was something alive. A struggling, living mass of something slowly descending to earth. What he had first seen as a speck, had now revealed itself to be two large bald eagles in deadly combat. The huge birds were fighting in the sky over a fish. The fish had already dropped to the ground, but the birds had continued their struggle until they were bloody and exhausted. With a last wild scream, each made a fatal plunge at the other, and both birds came tumbling down to earth —dead, falling side by side, within a few feet of the man who had been witnessing the fierce battle of the sky.

 Covetousness…had destroyed both of them. Trust God and enjoy what He has given YOU.

The Lying Process: 3 Downward Choices & 3 Steps Forward

George Washington once owned up to cutting down a cherry tree with saying, “I cannot tell a lie.”  We look for honesty in our leaders…even if we are not honest all the time ourselves.

 

In recent years, Konrad Kujau sold what he said was “Hitler’s Diaries.”  This find was sold for 2.5 million dollars!  It was later proven to be a lie!  Konrad and his partner in crime served 42 months in jail for fraud and embezzlement.  After his release, he ran for mayor – and lost miserably!  His lies had altered his reality.

 

A lie identifies the liar as following the wrong leader!  (Remember, Satan is the father of lies - John 8:44.) The liar insanely pursues life down the path of death!  At rocket pace, the liar runs after the one who declares his desire to destroy his family, destroy his career, and in short destroy his life

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12

The lifestyle of a liar is deceiving. A liar has chosen to embrace the lie that says, “this lie will be more satisfying and freeing than the truth.”

 

Each of us are surrounded by situations that aren’t always easy to tell the truth.  What do you habitually do with a “truth moment?”  The believer must be known by truth.

 

“He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time till at length it becomes habitual.” Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Third president of the United States.

 

“Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but is a stab at the health of human society. “ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) U.S. poet, essayist and lecturer.

 

“The liar's punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.” George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish writer.

 

Let’s consider the account of Ananias and Sapphira one more time.

Acts 5:1-2, 7 says, “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,  And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet…..And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.  And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.”

the Lying Process

The collaboration. This husband and wife team (Acts 5:1-11) chose to collaborate on the details of a lie. These partners in crime sold their land for a certain price and decided to keep part of the profit. There is no sin in this. Right? However, they agreed to say they gave the church all the profit. There was really no reason for this lie…other than perhaps, pride. Barnabas (and other believers) sold land and gave all the profit to the church (per the end of Acts 4). A generous, sacrificial gift for sure! Enter Ananias and Sapphira. This was a premeditated lie…they planned on not telling the truth to the church leaders!

 

The confrontation.  Peter was not inside their tent when they had this collaboration meeting. Peter did not “happen” to walk by their tent and over hear this discussion (after all, tents are not known for being sound proof). It was God who revealed the truth of this claim of a generous gift to Peter.

Have you ever felt like your parents seemed to have eyes in the back of their heads to be able to discern you were lying? As a parent of 5 children (mostly grown up now), I have realized that the look of a lie is found in the eyes of a child. God gives the parent a discernment to sniff out a lie in His perfect timing. Sometimes we think we have gotten away with our lie(s). The Bible tells us a different story…

“…be sure your sin will find you out!” Numbers 32:23b

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7

 

According to an article by Vivian Giang and  Jhaneel Lockhart in the May 7, 2012 Business Insider, there have been numerous high profile people who have lied on their resumes. They embraced a lie in the hopes of finding a better way, but it only worked for a time. Consider the hurt, embarrassment, and destruction a lie brought to their lives!

“Marilee Jones had been with MIT for 28 years before the university realized that she never received the undergraduate or master's degrees that she said she got on her resume. In fact, Jones never received any college degrees.

In 2007, she resigned stating on the university's Web site that she had "misrepresented her academic degrees to the institute" and explained that she "did not have the courage to correct [her] resume when [she] applied for [her] current job or at any time since."

 

“In 2008, British chef Robert Irving was fired from his own show on the Food Network's Dinner Impossible when it was uncovered that he didn't actually design the royal couple's wedding cake, but that he only attended the school where it was made and contributed by picking fruit for the cake.”

“Five days after being named as Notre Dame's new head coach, George O'Leary was forced to resign for lying about a master's degree in education from New York University that he never received. The university did verify that he was a student there in the '70s, but that he never graduated.

 Furthermore, O'Leary told his employers that he played college football for three years at the University of New Hampshire, but, in actuality, he never even played a game of football

O'Leary is known for his coaching success with Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets from 1994 to 2001.”

 

The “truth moment” confrontation will eventually come!  Be sure your sin will find you out.  We don’t hear enough about lying today.  It is considered “not a big deal” and “there are bigger problems than lying.”  But that is not the truth about lying!

This is an offense that strikes at the core of the person of God and His Word.  Jesus says, “…I am the truth…” in John 14.  It is declared “…thy Word is truth…” in John 17. 

This is why something “so small” like lying is included in the 10 commandments…the believer is told if he is to follow Jesus --- “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) 

 

Being a man or woman of truth is a reflection of Jesus in me and through me!

 

The catastrophe. Ananias and Sapphira did not lie to men. Peter declares they have lied “unto God” (Acts 5:4)! Wow. Can you just imagine the horror of reality tingling down Ananias’ spine at that moment? The con was over. He had been found out. The declaration was one of lying to God…the One who delivered Israel from their Egyptian captors, parted the Red Sea for their escape, and then crashed the walls of that parted sea to destroy their pursuing enemies. Peter just announced Ananias had lied to the One who did many miracles during His recent earthly ministry…to the One who recently died for his sins and rose again. This was a devastating moment of regret. But it was only a moment, for God required Ananias’ life ( and we would soon learn his wife’s life as well), and he dropped down dead. His own way brought literal destruction (Proverbs 14:12). No one touched him, or drove a knife through his abdomen, or fought him to the death…he just. dropped. dead. Lying IS a big deal. God will not be mocked. Look at the these verses for God’s thoughts on not telling the truth: Proverbs 6:16-19; 19:9.

 

The restoration. Did you notice that Peter gave Ananias and Sapphira an opportunity to confess? He asked them both a pointed question about the financial profit from their sale of land. They both made the decision to go down with the ship. They kept to the script. Refused to confess their sin…and swift judgment followed. However, YOU have opportunity to confess, repent, and begin the process of rebuilding trust — choose God’s path BEFORE you are found out! Click here to consider the importance of confessing, repenting, and rebuilding trust in your relationships: Proverbs 12:19, 22; 28:13; Ephesians 4:25

 

2 brief conclusions about lying from Acts 5:4-5 – “thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God”

  • The liar’s real target is God (v. 4)

  • The people’s clear response was fear (v. 5). We must fear God more than man when faced with a “truth moment” (as well as any other moment) in life!

“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” —Proverbs 29:25

This is a valuable lesson…fear God more than man!!

 

Let’s end with …3 Foundational Truths to Live By:

1.      Mean what you say  -- that “yes” means “yes” and your “no” means “no” (Matthew 5:37)

 2.    Say what you mean – “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Truth will include love as God is both TRUTH and LOVE.

 3.    Live what you say and mean – “love God, but hate your brother” (I John 4:20). You cannot claim to “love God” and hate your brother in Christ!

 

Are you finished with school?  That’s a question my wife or I would ask each of our kiddos at the end of a home-school day or when one child isn’t busy doing school work.  The answer is often, NO.  However, there have been times through the 19 years (& counting) of homeschooling that we discovered a child was saying “Yes, Yes, Yes” when the real answer was “no No NO.”  Sometimes weeks had passed before realizing that a specific class had been skipped altogether – lie after lie was required to skip it.  Punishment, make up work, and bad grades then followed.  “But it was too hard…but I really don’t need this class…” was the justifying reasons provided.

 

Justifying or logical reasoning doesn’t change the command of “Thou shall not bear false witness.”  It does apply to us all.  The believer must be known for what is truth!

7 Crucial Helps in Rebuilding Trust in a Relationship

Your friend tells you, “I make 200 grand a year,” but the next day he is asking to borrow money.  You asked him about the 200 grand and he said he was just joking. The next day your friend says, “I can fix any car with any problem,” but then you see him at the auto repair shop in town.  You ask him, “why are you fixing this yourself.”  He says, “I don’t know how.  When I said I could fix any car any problem I was speaking with wishful thinking.”

Next week you ask your friend if he can help you with a project at the house.  He says, “sure!”  However, he never shows up and then you find out on social media that night that he was playing baseball with friends instead.  You ask him about it and he claims he never said that.

 What does lying do to a relationship?  It tears apart the trust of a relationship.  Lack of trust builds rapidly for many people!  Some are better known for lies than they are the truth.  What are you known by among those who know you or are familiar with you?  The believer must be known for what is truth!

 

Exodus 20:16 declares this helpful and important relationship command —“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

 

This command is repeated throughout the Bible:

1.      Eph. 4:15 – “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”

 

2.      Eph. 4:25 – “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.”

 

3.      Col. 3:9 – Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;”

 

The scriptures give examples of those who did not tell the truth…

  • Satan as the serpent in the garden (Gen. 3:1-5)

  • Abram saying Sarai is his sister (Gen. 12)

  • Jacob saying he is Esau (Gen. 27)

  • Ananias and Sapphira claiming to have given more money than they did

    Please consider taking moment to turn to Acts 5:1-11 and read the account of Ananias and Sapphira in the Bible.

Consider the direction & devastation of lying. Acts 5:3 says, “Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost.”

In the autumn months, the leaves fall.  If you rake them up, they will still continue to fall.  Raking the leaves doesn’t get to the source of all the leaves.  The tree will either have to have all the leaves gone or cut down for the leaves to be completely gone.

Or think about the dandelions in the summer…they are not removed by mowing them down.  You have to dig up the roots or spray an agent on them to kill the roots for dandelions to be completely gone.

 

To take care of lying -- you need to go to the source!  The source is Satan himself!  LYING IS CONNECTED TO SATAN.

 

  • Lying has its roots in Satan. Satan is the father of lies. (Jn. 8:44) It is God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18; Num. 23:19; I Jn. 2:27).

  • Lying has its reflection in Satan. Satan is a deceiver. (II Cor. 11:14-15)

  • Lying has its readiness in Satan. Satan is always ready for self-preservation at the cost of truth. Remember, Peter said that Satan filled their heart to lie. (Acts 5)

 

You might be thinking — So, what if I have blown it?  I have lied.  I have been lying. I have lied in what I call a “small way” for years…or I have been lying or lied in what I know is a “big way.” I need to come clean or I have already been caught in the lie…and I need to reestablish trust in a relationship.  What do I do?

First, let me say, praise the Lord — you are looking for good counsel to get back on track! Praise the Lord that you now want to do the right thing and make it right with others. This is a big step. Celebrate this victory!

Second, please know I truly want to help…and so I need to correct one crucial area of terminology. There is no such thing as lying in a “small way.” Lying breaks trust in a relationship. Anytime a relationship begins to be torn apart by our own actions — it is a big deal! It is important we understand that truth and own it.

Consider these 7 Crucial Helps in Rebuilding Trust:

1. Prov. 28:13 - Take ownership of your wrong without casting blame on another person. No one made you lie. Without listing justifying causes, acknowledge your sin of lying (yes, lying is sin…it is a command and disobeying the command is sin). Use the words, “I was wrong, will you please forgive me?” Then repent . Don’t keep on embracing the sinful habit of lying!  Your choice of lying has/is destroying the relationships around you…destroying your reputation and the testimony of Jesus Christ…even destroying your own credibility. So, confess it and turn from it!

 

2. Prov. 17:28; I Pet. 5:6 - Do NOT supply the person, with whom you are attempting to rebuild trust, a list of reasons why they should trust you!  

o   They have heard enough. 

o   It is time to consistently, genuinely show them

o   “Show them” in your choices involving them AND others

o   If you are found lying to another…but not them… it is a still a big deal to them.  They then believe – “he hasn’t changed at all…” “…if he is lying to that person…I wonder if he/she is still lying to me too!”

 

3. Prov. 18:13 - Understand where the area of least trust lies in that relationship and ask what you can do to BEGIN to rebuild that trust.  Realize the one you ask may not have an answer for you immediately. They may not even know what to say at that point. Their head (and heart) may still be swirling from the hurt. It will take time. Expect this process to take a lot of time. Also, don’t forget about the Biblical rules for communication! Ephesians 4 talks about being honest, about being quick to make things right (don’t hold onto personal offenses), focus your attentions on attacking the sin problem - not the person, take initiative to choose right even when you think no one will know.

 

4. Prov. 11:13; 14:22 – Recognize that forgiveness is freely given, but trust is earned.   Forgiveness ought to come quickly…not because you deserve it. Jesus stands ready to forgive us and shower mercy on all those who ask (Psalm 86:5). Some have said, “Why don’t you trust me? I thought you forgave me?” Trust is not an automatic outcome. Trust is earned…it is a gift to be guarded carefully. Trust comes with experience and having demonstrated trustworthiness. You earn trust and respect from others over time with making right choices. 

 

5. Ps. 27:14 -  Be patient.  It will take time.  The amount of time it takes to rebuild trust is dependent on the person and on the offense. You do not have the right to tell a person when they must trust you again. Rebuilding trust will take longer the more you insist for trust to be regained in a certain time constraint. A delay in the offended person’s heart to give trust again is not necessarily bitterness…it could simply be the well-earned lack of trust.

Of course, with all that said, the offended person needs to trust that God will take care of the wrong and God will (if needed) expose wrong in the future – just like He will do if the offended person does wrong as well! (HELPFUL HINT: if you are the offender, the breaker of trust — do yourself a favor and don’t tell the one with whom you are endeavoring to rebuild trust, that they need to trust God to take care of your wrongs and start trusting you again…that is a work God will do in their heart, in His time.)

 

6. James 4:10 - Defensive responses only elongate the healing process. Once again, you need to be patient, take care of your side of the wedge of the conflict you created with lies (it usually is more than one lie…covering up the original lie), pray for strength of consistency on your part, and pray for the healing of the offended person’s heart.

 

7. Luke 16:15; Rom. 16:18 - Manipulation or Intimidation helps you get your way for the short term…but they also cause greater doubt in the relationship for the long term. You may think the relationship is better because you employed your old friends, manipulation and intimidation, to help out. The one who uses these old friends is used to “making things happen,” “fixing problems,” and “doing what it takes to resolve the issue quickly,” …etc…. The reality check is that these two “friends” will destroy the trust and strength of your relationship. There is no quick fix to this trust issue in a relationship. Do you really want to rebuild trust in the relationship you deeply hurt with lies? Kick these “friends” to the curb for good!

 

In 1899, four journalists from separate news organizations ended up together in a coffee shop.  It was a slow news day and they had no big headline for tomorrow’s newspapers. Desperate for a headline, they decided to come up with a headline of their own making – a lie – and submit it to their separate editors. They were careful to be consistent with the details.  The story decided upon would be about China.  The journalists thought China would never hear about this false news story so far away. After all, it was 1899. Communication systems were nothing close to the computer systems we have today.  Well, one news wire picked up the riveting story and then another …and then China did hear about it and they were ANGRY! This lie was what directed the beginning of the Boxer Rebellion in China! 

There is no such thing as a “small white lie.”  Our words have consequences — for good or for bad. Lying is a big deal. Do all those who know you, know you for truth or for lies? Consider the pathway to rebuild trust in your relationships today.

Author: Gary Holloway

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