Genesis Chapter 12:10-20 is a strange story in the Bible. Abraham is going to the place that God will show him and he comes into Egypt where he thinks that something bad will happen to his wife so he lies about her and calls her his sister. He does not have to lie, for a couple of reasons. One, he has God on his side and two, his thoughts were unjustified, as we see when we read the story.
Lying is a common place in our lives. We have this idea that if we are lying for a good reason that it is justifiable. I think that all of us have lied about stuff at one time or another. Those of you who are now saying that you have not done this are now lying. Lying is one of the first sins that humans commit. We don’t have to be taught to lie, it comes natural.
The Bible says that the truth will set us free. It also tells us the Satan is the father of all lies. But, we think that lying is a tool to help us not hurt feelings. So that brings me to the purpose of this blog. If lying is so appalling to God, why do Christians think it is okay?
Abraham is the father of faith. He trusted God to go to a place that he would be shown. Trusted God to make him the father of many nations, even to the point of being willing to sacrifice his only son Isaac. But when facing the present perceived threat to his family, he lies. What I think happened is that he was in a place that was so ungodly, that He dismissed God’s protection for self-protection. When you can’t see God it is easy to turn to self for what we think is best.
Faith is about trusting even when we can’t see or don’t feel God’s presence. Faith is remembering that God is truth and truth never changes. Faith is knowing that when we are in a situation that God has put us in, we can continue to be godly, even when no one else is.
God does not want us to remove ourselves from the things of this world. Jesus lived and ate with sinners. The difference is that He never forgot to be holy. He loved those who were sinners but taught them to not sin. So God wants us to influence others as well. As soon as we give in to the temptation to lie, we give away the ability to allow our faith to shine through. We also limit our ability to show how God works through the tough situation that makes Him the one who solves our problem and not ourselves.
Lying is never the answer. It may feel better, but it will not set us free. Feelings can often be our worst enemy.
God is gracious and will never stop being the God of truth. He often works around our failures and in spite of our sin. But never confuse His love and grace for acceptance of our lack of faith and feeling as if we need to lie. Often our feeling of the need to lie is not justified, even to those who don’t believe. In Abraham’s case the ungodly king was the one who reminded Abraham that God was who He was. I think far more people who claim to not be Christians still know in their hearts that there is a God. They are just looking to see if those of us who publicly say that we believe will allow our faith in action to match our words.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that lying is okay. Tell the truth and live it and watch how God is faithful and true. Jesus said, ” I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…”
A famous musician dies. Everyone knows her and knows her troubled past. She made bad decision after bad decision and fell prey to those in the industry who prey on her type. The music world is saddened. The news media is excited. They have something that the whole world will listen to them talk about in hopes of finding the truth. Weeks go by and by the time the truth is learned, our lives are filled with the next tragedy that is bound to happen. At the height of it all, the question that never seems to get answered is, who’s to blame?
Sure there are doctors, like with Michael Jackson, who get convicted of crimes. Sure there are family members who are rejected from funerals. Sure there are those on the inside that should have seen it coming and did nothing about it. But still, who is to blame?
I feel comfortable writing about this because I know what it is like to struggle with drug and alcohol addictions. Although I was not a famous musician or a movie star, the drugs and alcohol did not seem to care. I had plenty of people who played a part in my addictions. My dad was an alcoholic. My brother and sister both did drugs and drank. I listened to rock and roll music which glorified drugs and drinking. I had a dealer who knew that I was an addict and had sober friends and family that knew it too. If only someone was to blame. Then I would have stopped…NOT.
The bottom line of the blame game is you, or in this case her, or in my case me. I chose to make bad decisions that led to more bad decision and I chose to not listen to good advice and the cries of those who knew I was heading in a very dangerous direction. Short of locking me in a room and monitoring my activity 24 hours a day, there was nothing anyone could do to stop me from my self-destructive ways. Even the loving cry of a wife and children were not enough to stop me from opening a bottle or a bag. No one ever poured a drink down my throat or forced a pill or joint or line into my bloodstream. It was all me and short of me changing my decision-making process, nothing was going to stop me.
Who’s to blame is ourselves. We are in control of what sin we chose to make prevalent in our lives. We all sin. We are all powerless to fully overcome sin and God knows this. He is waiting on us to realize it. Once we do, we can then make the choice to call out to Him for help. He and He alone can totally free you from sin. We must be able to replace an addiction with a suitable fix or else the addiction will manifest itself somewhere else. The Bible tell us not to be drunk with wine but to be filled with the Spirit of God. That is the suitable fix for any addiction and any sin.
It starts with our admitting our sin. Next we ask for forgiveness and by faith accept the new life God wants to give us. He then condemns the sin but saves the sinner and gives us the power to overcome anything this life can throw at us. We can always chose to fall back, but God will never chose to disown you. Your soul is safe, your flesh is weak, but God is the answer and we are who’s to blame.
Last night about midnight I was trying to get my solid white, except for a brown eye patch, Jack Russel to come in and quit barking before the neighbors called the police on us. For about 20 minutes she had been barking continually. Finally I slipped my shoes on and went out to get her only find her in a fight with a very large possum. My dog is every bit if 13 pounds, but in her mind she is 130 pounds. The possum was at least 15-20 pounds and looked like it was doing well in the fight until they ran into the sandbox that has been converted to a mud-wrestling pit. It didn’t take long before the possum was not playing possum and I picked up my now solid brown Jack Russel and went in to give her a bath.
Over the years, we have been kept safe from all sorts of wild animals like squirrels, rabbits, mice, and possums. For the most part they are left outside and I dispose of them, but occasionally they get brought in through the doggie door and I find them via smell. That is always fun, but rare.
My wife gets very frustrated with her dog because she wanted a little froo froo dog and she can’t accept the fact that this one is a natural-born killer. As I was having lunch with her today, I was re-telling the story of how I was up bathing her dog at midnight while she was sleeping and she asked me, “why does she have to kill every rodent that comes in our yard?” To which I responded, “it is bred into her”. For those who don’t know, the Terrier breed was specifically bred to hunt rodents. They can’t help themselves no matter how you try to raise them, it is in their blood.
I believe that humans are like this in many ways. We are born to sin. No matter how well we are raised, we sin at early ages and continue our whole lives; we can’t help it. No one taught us to lie, yet we quickly deny our involvement with another sibling who has just gotten in trouble. As babies we learn that crying will get mommy to come pick us up. So what was meant to be a way of communicating pain, fear, or hunger, becomes a way of getting what we want. We grow up to convince ourselves that there is a right way of lying and deny that the truth is the best thing to handle a situation.
There is another thing that I believe humans are born with that is often covered deep with sin and humanistic teachings and that, is a desire to know God. God created humans with this in hopes that one day we would seek the truth and see that it is Him that has the answer to the meaning of life. In fact, it is God who is the author and finisher of life and until we get to know Him, life is a continual search for a purpose that we can’t fulfill on our own.
God has been the heart’s desire of every human ever born. The Greeks and Romans created gods for every reason a man could think of. They built statues and worshiped them as if they were alive but never found satisfaction because they were not real. The native Americans had gods of nature and animals but were not satisfied because the life that these gods had were taken by the humans that worshiped them. And from the beginning of civilization, man has claimed to be his own god more often than not. Believing that we are the saviors our selves, only to be let down by our own frailty. No god created by man will every satisfy what the one true God put in us and that is a desire to know the truth and He is that truth.
This time of year, Christmas, the whole world hears of a Savior that was born some 2000 years ago. Something in us tells us that this is a special time of year. A time of peace and hope and giving. A time of family and friends and brotherly love. A time of trying to deny the truth and substitute the man-made meaning of a God-given Love. So many times we hear tragic stories of brokenness and loneliness because what we desire is a relationship. This relationship can never be filled with people or things but rather the love of the meaning of it all, Jesus. For unto us a child was born, Jesus, and He will save the people from their sins. He was given because of God’s great love and His desire to know us intimately.
Like my dog, who can’t help but chase rodents, humans can’t help but chase God. Why not turn to the true God and forget about the lies that lead us in the wrong direction? Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ who died a sacrificial death for all who will accept it as payment for our sin. And whoever will call on Him will be saved and given eternal life. A life of meaning, purpose and hope. A life of love and a relationship with the God of love. It’s in us.
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Not understanding God is does not mean that He is wrong or what His word, the Bible, says is wrong. In fact, it is confirmation that what the Bible says about God is correct. Isaiah 55:9 “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” I constantly remind myself of this verse. But that does not mean that we can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t try to understand the things that challenge us.
One of my last blogs was responded to more than any other in quite a while. The one about lying. Many agreed with me, which by the way, is the right thing to do, but I was surprised at how many tried to justify that there was a good time to lie. I have to admit and remind you that I too said that it was very difficult and at times it seemed right, but God disagrees. If Jesus is the Way, THE TRUTH, and the Life, then anything not the truth is not the way to go.
Many of you gave scriptural references of people who lied. Abraham, Moses’ family and others were brought to my attention. What you have to realize is that God did not put those in there as an example of what to do, but rather as an example of how He could still use a fallen mankind. In the case of Moses, it is important to remember that the whole reason Israel was in Egypt was because of a lie. Joseph was left for dead, sold as a slave and dad was told that he was in fact dead. Only by God’s grace and favor on Joseph did his family eventually move to Egypt during the famine and eventually ended up as slaves. Lies and sin never go unpunished. God is a just God and cannot allow sin to go unchecked.
Sure, there were always good things that came from the situations but that is not because of man’s sin, it is solely because of God’s grace. His grace is greater than all of our sins. Jesus did not die for the righteous, but for the sinner. It was a lie that convicted Jesus, but God used that lie as part of His plan to redeem fallen man. The only way an innocent man can be convicted is through a lie or the truth being ignored, call it what you want.
In the past several months I have been pounding into the ears of my church and anyone who will listen the fact that God wants us to read the entire Bible starting at Genesis 1:1 and all the way through to Revelation 22:21. Only when we take the entire Bible into account can the whole truth be revealed. Stories, chapters, or verses always build on or compliment the rest of the Bible. It is not a book of one liners to prove our point or children’s stories to teach a fable. It is the living word of God, the Truth, and the story of the redemption of a fallen man.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval. 17 They equip God’s servants so that they are completely prepared to do good things. Our human nature wants us to lie. It wants us to find a reason to justify our actions when they contradict the Bible. But if you are a Christian, your human nature must be replaced with God’s nature and a desire for the truth. Satan is the father of ALL lies, and we are no longer his children but rather Children of God, born into the family by the Truth, Jesus Christ.
Thanks so much for being honest about what you think about my blogs. Thanks for being honest enough to say that you struggle with some things that God says. We all do. In fact, let me leave you with one last scripture to help when you struggle.
2 There are all kinds of advantages. First of all, God entrusted them with his word.
3 What if some of them were unfaithful? Can their unfaithfulness cancel God’s faithfulness?
4 That would be unthinkable! God is honest, and everyone else is a liar, as Scripture says, “So you hand down justice when you speak, and you win your case in court.”
It was a crazy weekend in a good way. If you are not a church person, then go ahead and read this just because it won’t hurt you. If you are a church person read it and be encouraged.
The church as a universal figure often gets the negative press of being judgmental and often full of hypocrites and holier than thou types. I have to admit that most of the press is true, but not accurate. The church is judgmental, we are told to be. We are not supposed to think that we are better than anyone else though. First and foremost, we are supposed to judge ourselves and if we did a better job of that, we would not be criticized so much for judging others.
I know for sure that my church is full of hypocrites, every last one of us. We all do what we shouldn’t do and don’t do what we should from time to time. I guess it’s the blatant hypocrisy that bothers people and that goes back to judging ourselves better. As long as flesh and blood people try to live spiritual lives, we are going to have hypocrisy. And as for being holier than thou, we should only be concerned about being as holy as we can be and letting God be the standard of holiness that we all look to. One thing I think that most people will agree with, is that, if people who claim to be Christians lived up to the hype, very few people would have a problem with the church. So please forgive us for failing, but I know our church and a few others are trying.
But that is not why I am blogging today. I want to praise a few things that happened that over the weekend.
My son’s church, the one he attends and serves at, not owns, had an amazing weekend. They had a goal for the people of the church to specifically invite people who admitted they were not Christians to come to the church and hear and see what they were doing and judge for themselves if it was worth the chance of knowing Jesus. Over 500 people made public their profession of faith in this one church on one weekend! That tells me that they were treated the way they thought Jesus wanted church people to act and that they believed the message that they heard. Pretty amazing. Sure this is a large church, but people respond to one person asking one question more than large numbers screaming demands. Jesus wants us to be personable with people. Way to go Newspring Church!
My ex youth pastor said that his church had record attendance this past weekend. They are a more traditional church that tends to appeal to older people in theory. But I have seen a change in the heart of the people and although he would be the first to agree, (I think), that they have ways to go, they have already traveled a great journey. The youth of this church is responding to the call to live lives that reflect Jesus in everything that they do. I can’t help but believe that the fire in this youth group is spreading to the whole congregation…Way to go Reedy Fork Baptist Church!
Our church had a larger than normal crowd this weekend. It was not a record, but it was above average. We had a women’s group on retreat and several other families who were out for known reasons and yet we still had the largest crowd in months. What was cool about it is that our people stepped up to fill gaps in every area that was lacking and no one complained. Just smiles and friendly serving of those who were attending. Our music was, although always good, incredible, the crowd was clapping and enjoying worship and we had a bunch of guests…Way to go, The Body, A Church for Anybody!
We always welcome and ask for feedback and I heard some amazing stuff. Stuff like, this is the friendliest church I have ever been in, I felt like I was at home here, and I am not a member but I felt like one. This is what happens when the hypocrites at my church get a chance to try to act like Jesus. They do a great job. Not perfect, but getting closer all the time.
I have been preaching a hard-hitting series on truth and propaganda and it has challenged folks to re-examine a few things. The response has been incredible and some people are making some very tough decisions about changing their lifestyles. That only confirms to me that the truth is powerful and God is the author of the truth. But most incredible is the fact the we saw 3 people make a profession of faith. Not the 500 of the other church mentioned, but we are much smaller and there is never a number, other than zero, that disappoints when people come to know Jesus. But when you add the number of people at our church alone that have met Jesus for the first time this year, it is pretty amazing.
Jesus changes lives. He never refuses anyone who calls on Him. He uses messed up people to do a divine work and I am so thrilled to see how it works when a church gets close to getting it right.
So if you go to church, get involved and watch what God is doing. If you don’t, check out a few churches and find one where the people are more like Jesus than the hypocrites you think we are. You won’t be sorry when you find it and you won’t forget Jesus when you meet Him or His people who understand who they are truly supposed to be. Why? Because God is truly awesome His love is amazing!
Day two of the return from vacation and it is like I was never gone, except for this huge back-log of stuff that needs to be done because everyone else did not take vacation the same time that I did. I think next time it should be mandatory that we all take vacation at the same time, and that way no one will come back and be behind.
While I was gone I was praying about my next series that I will be preaching. I have struggled from day one of having the thoughts that perhaps this is where God wants me to spend some time teaching and preaching. I have even questioned the fact that this was the direction that God was leading because I was having such a difficult time with it. Then it dawned on me that I was about to preach the most incredible series that God has ever allowed me to preach and that was why I was struggling so much. You see, I believe with all my heart that Satan does not want this series to happen.
Even as I am writing this blog, I am not 100% sure of the exact direct that God is going to take me or even how long the series will be, but I do know that it is biblical, bold, and basic. The series if about how we deal with the truth. The truth is so simple, so easy, so basic, but yet everyone messes it up.
From the beginning of time, the truth has been challenged. If you are reading this as someone who does not believe in God, you still deal with this struggle only from a different angle, but in the beginning of human’s existing on earth, the truth was twisted to deceive us. For those who don’t believe in God, your struggle is who decides what is true. But either way, truth exists and when we stray from it, we get into all sorts of dilemmas.
Some say that there is no such thing as absolute truth, that truth is somehow relevant. My argument is that there has to be at least one absolute truth, even in that argument. Here it is; it has to be absolutely true that there is no absolute truth. I don’t want to linger here, maybe another blog.
I want to challenge Christians to live the truth. If you believe that God’s word is true, then we must live like it is true, and if you are a Christian that doesn’t believe that, you can’t be sure that you are a Christian at all. Trusting anything but the truth is dangerous. All lies are for someone else’s benefit, not yours. The truth is for the good of everyone and I say that because Jesus says that He is the truth.
I ask for Christians to pray for me as I study and preach this series. I ask you to pray that you are able to not just hear the truth but to trust it enough to do it. In the Bible, James tells us that without doing what we hear from God’s word we are just fooling ourselves. I would love for you to hear this series and I normally don’t do this, but if you are not in the Rock Hill, SC area, you can listen to it online. All of our sermons are posted within a couple of days after they are preached and often they are posted that Sunday. Go to http://www.thebodylive.com and listen to this. It will be tough, but it will be, the truth.
I was asked the other day about how Christians are supposed to judge right and wrong, when the Bible tells us not to judge. That is a great question and the short answer is that the assumption that we are told not to judge is wrong. That assumption comes from taking one verse out of context and is used by people who are not Christians so that Christians will not tell them that they are sinners, and by Christians who are sinning but would rather submit to sin than submit to God.
1 “Stop judging so that you will not be judged.
2 Otherwise, you will be judged by the same standard you use to judge others. The standards you use for others will be applied to you.
3 So why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer’s eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
4 How can you say to another believer, ‘Let me take the piece of sawdust out of your eye,’ when you have a beam in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye. Then you will see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer’s eye.
This is where that teaching comes from. It does not say that we can’t call a sin a sin, it tells believers not to be hypocrites by pointing to other people’s sins when we are sinning in a very obvious manner. Let me share some other verses that are better suited for us having the right to judge others.
John 7:24- Stop judging by outward appearance! Instead, judge correctly.” This plainly tells us to judge others, but to do so correctly. That is the key. To judge the sin and not the opinion. Sin is wrong, and people don’t like to be told that they are wrong. So if we do tell them, we can expect to be criticized. But often we turn a blind eye to sin because of that. God has given us the truth to help us judge. If the Bible says it is wrong, we can say it is wrong. There is no one in their right mind would not tell someone who is sexually molesting a child that they are not wrong. That is judging, right?
1 Corinthians 6:2- Don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world? So if you’re going to judge the world, aren’t you capable of judging insignificant cases?
I think that this is an important verse for Christians to understand. There is coming a time when we will judge the world. This means that we will enforce the laws of God. So if God is going to trust us in the future to judge the world, we need to be able to judge ourselves now. The emphasis is on righteous judging, not self righteous judgement.
Overwhelmingly, Christians are shut down because of ignorance of the Bible. Ignorance can often lead to us not doing what God wants us to do because someone who doesn’t want to accept that they are a sinner plays a guilt card on us. There is a whole book in the Old Testament call Judges. It is about people who were given the authority to judge the actions of others according to God’s word. Most of the judging was for the purpose of correcting the actions of God’s people not those who were outside of them.
The same is true today. God’s people must first learn to judge themselves using God’s word before we should go running to tell those outside that they are sinners. My personal belief is that they already know it and are trying to find hope, not judgment. That is where Christians are to use a tool far greater than judgment. That tool is called GRACE. Grace is what God used when we all deserved judgment. When God judges us it is not in comparison to me or you or any other person we know, but He judges us compared to Jesus and we all fall short. So by accepting forgiveness and God’s grace we are reconciled to God and judged as such.
So grace allows us to admit our faults and receive forgiveness. It allows us to know the truth and when we know the truth we are free to judge away.