Lying lips …

Finding just one proverb to write on is like going into a candy story finding just one favorite candy in a store full of candy. So after wandering around the Proverb Candy Store, here is mine: Proverbs 12:22. “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.”

The word ‘abomination‘ is not a commonly used word in today’s vernacular. The word we us today is ‘to detest something of someone.’ Where I have most often heard the word abomination used is by Christians who misquote and misapply what God says is because they are on some righteous bandwagon [e.g.: the gay-lesbian debate]. They will say that God says that all gay people are ‘an abomination to the Lord’ [attempting to quote a 1611 KJV version that they probably have never read for themselves]. They quote this as if that were the ONLY thing that God detests. Shame on them.

Key Word: Abomination. It means abhorrence, disgust, an action that is vicious, vile; an intense loathing. It is a strong word and God does not sling it around randomly. Other words that help describe abomination would be: outrage, atrocity, repugnance, something detested. The opposite of abomination is love: consider John 3:16. This is the love that God exhibits as He overlooks and puts away our sin. Not only does he condemn the sin [not the sinner] but He eliminates the sin. Wow!

Two reasons that God hates lying enough to call it an abomination: [1] it breaks His Law. God never lies. God never misspeaks. God never has to go back and correct something He has said. [2] it is destructive to human society. We do not seek out liars to be friends with. We do not seek out those who we suspect might stab us in the back to share our lives with. No. We want to be friends with those who will be honest with us and that we can place confidence in.  

Lying is so easy to do. We will lie because our pride prompts us to protect ourselves. We will lie because our pride tells us that we need to protect others; a mindset of “they cannot handle the truth.”  

  • Lying is an abomination because it is contrary to God’s nature. In His kingdom and in the final chapter of history as we know it, God says clearly: “… and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” [Rev 21:26-27 NASB]
  •  Lying is an abomination because it is contrary to community. Lying takes place in community; in relationships no matter how surface. Lying breaks the “imago dei” [Latin: asserts that humans are created in God’s image and therefore have inherent value independent of function.] in which we were created. But wait, is lying all that God considers an abomination; something that He detests vehemently? Consider Pr 11:1 “A false balance is an abomination…” Again, a form of lying in a community setting; e.g.: lying to another in a buyer / seller relationship. God also detests gossiping  
  • Lying is an abomination because it is contrary to the Scriptures that He has empowered to change our hearts. When God tells us the truth about ourselves, He tells us the whole truth. He leaves nothing to imagination. To tell someone a partial truth from God’s word [like Christians like to do with the gay-lesbian debate] is really lying to make a proud full point. And that is from the pit of Hell! 
  • Lying is an abomination because it is contrary to the essence of His Son Jesus, who is the embodiment of truth itself. There was always a harmony between the words that Jesus spoke and the inward intents of His heart. We need to be careful that our ‘favorite’ biblical truth is not taught to the exclusion of other biblical truths, producing a dangerous imbalance. We need to be careful that we do not teach a biblical truth in an exaggerated way, often going beyond what Scripture actually says, and in the end this does more harm than good. Many times clear, biblical warnings are ignored or reinterpreted so radically that they lose all impact or effect, leaving people vulnerable and exposed.
  • Lying is an abomination because it is contrary to the Holy Spirit who is the One who leads us into all truth as seen in Jesus

The opposite end of the spectrum from lying is loving faithfulness, loving people enough to always act in faithfulness to truth which is the delight of God. John 3:21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”  Now I know that this is not directed toward those who have a personal relationship with Jesus, but it does clarify, if there was any doubt, about how God sees lying. It should give us pause to consider how well we tell the truth. Are we prone to misspeak and therefore mislead because our pride wants us to have the advantage in the relationship?

 

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An Unashamed Worker

“Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” [1Ti 2:14-15 NASB]

If I need to divide a pie into four equal parts than I need to accurately divide it so each piece is equal. I need to cut straight. When teaching I need to be accurate and not fudge on my research. Communicating the gospel requires care and a willingness to work hard. At each step I need to ensure the Holy Spirit is working and I am not hindering His work in me. Let’s look at the word “approved.” Webster defines this word as: acceptable, tried and refined, proven to be genuine. Synonyms would be worthy, able, chosen, faultless and blameless. The antonym would be reprobate.

I heard a preacher say recently that we cannot know everything in the Bible. And that is a very true statement. The God we worship and serve not only created us but the time frame we live in. He alone is outside our time. If we cannot know everything in the Bible what is the point? Because God loves it when we search to know Him. In His wisdom, we are made of dust but we handle eternal things when we study His ways and means. We are handling eternal beings when we engage people in eternal truth.

Journeymen Electricians must go through a rigorous process. They may either work under a journeyman electrician for 4000 hours and then take the licensing examine or they may first complete an apprentice program. An electrician apprentice program combines classroom work with field training. This program lasts about four years and requires the apprentice to complete at least 144 hours of classroom instruction and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. While the classroom work teaches about blueprint reading, electrical code requirements, soldering and electrical code requirements, field training allows the apprentice to apply this knowledge to practical work under the supervision of a licensed electrician. After all that, then they are ready to take the licensing examinations. This examination ensures that the apprentice understands the various aspects of electrical theory, the National Code, the state and local building and electrical codes.

Churches should be doing the same thing with every member so that they are trained “as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” We have lots of programs in the church that fill up the calendar. But what are we doing in the average church to provide the opportunities to become a workman approved by God? To become skilled in accurately handling the word of truth, we must provide not only classroom training but also OJT [On the Job Training]. This is where we allow our members to actually practice what they are learning. Teach them how to take a passage of Scripture and create a simple lesson plan. Then get them up in front of the class and give the lesson. Have them pray in front of the church by praying for the offering. Teach them how to witness. Then go out and actually do that in the local park. Have them give a sermon. That is scary, isn’t it pastors!

If we are to fulfill the mandate of Matthew 28 that Jesus left we need to be serious about discipleship and training our flock to do the work God has given us to accomplish. God has only one plan for the prorogation of the Good News regarding Jesus. He has no backup plan for telling people of the comfort, truth and love that He alone can provide. That one plan is us in the fellowship, sitting there comfortably in the pews. The “pastor” cannot do it all nor should he. We are to be the witnesses. The propagation of the Gospel is a participatory ministry. We need to be in the marketplace where the people are, exercising the gifts that He has given us.

He knows that each of us is up to the job. All we need to do is allow ourselves the opportunity to be trained as workmen. The training is available. The Holy Spirit awaits in the wings for us to take what we learn and go to stage center … wherever that is that He directs. We have learned His Script. He promises to direct our feet and our words so that the play unfolds and lost people find Christ.

So what is the point of all this?

First, we will get to not only do what He commands us to do but we will get to see up close and personal His working in the lives of others. Watching a life be redeemed and then transformed is more awesome than any miracle found in the Bible!

Second, Pastors, keep your flock “Reminding them of these things…” and give them the training and opportunity to “accurately handle the word of truth” in the church [that is the training ground] and then in the world around you.

Third, remember you only got proficient in handling the Word by doing it in real time. Practice makes perfect.

Out Came This Calf

Date:  Friday, October 12, 2012             Subject:  Out Came This Calf

 

Chapter: Exodus 32

To understand this chapter we must clearly understand the concept of delay. It is a simple word and we use it fairly often in our normal conversation. But it also is a Kingdom Principle used effectively by God to make us more like Christ. Check out this key word.

 

Key word[s]                         Delay

definitions:    To cause to be later or lower than expected or desired; to act or move slowly.

synonyms:   postponement, wait, on hold, interruption, detain, linger

antonyms:   hurry, rush, urge, hasten, expedite, accelerate

 

We have all heard the old axiom “Seeing is believing.” This is a myth. No. Actually for the man or woman redeemed by God, it is more than that; it is a bold-faced lie. It is a deception promoted by Satan. He wants us to buy into the false thinking that if we just see God do something, some miracle or sign, we will have all of our doubts removed. Then we will be able to trust God better and we will improve our serving Him. But the evidence demands a verdict! Will we really trust God better after seeing Him do something up close and personal. The whole story of a people hand-picked by God to escape the clutches of Egypt reveals the truth.

 

Ponder:

How could a people, rescued by God’s personal intervention, utilizing awesome, previously unseen and unheard of signs and wonders, still not believe? Ask yourself: Have I fallen into the trap of consciously or subconsciously thinking that if I just see some evidence that God is near then I will trust God more?

 

Disadvantage[s]

One of the Israelites’ biggest mistakes was their lack of spiritual vision. We have just read about this exodus but let me recap for you. God heard the cries of the Israelites and sent Moses to lead them out of bondage. Not wanting to lose all of this free labor, Pharaoh resisted and God convinced him otherwise with the 10 Plagues. A cloud by daylight and a pillar of fire by night guided and guarded them on this journey out of Egypt and into the desert. God leads them to the Red Sea and they find themselves trapped. Fear accompanied by grumbling and suddenly an escape route of dry land appears across the Red Sea opens up. Now the “believers” are safely on the other side and over the horizon comes the army of Egyptians madder than hornets. Again fear and complaining by the people who have seen God at work. They watch as the Egyptians try to use God crossing but they perish as the sea closes over them.

 

For three months they travel through the desert. There is much complaining. God patiently supplies them with manna, quail for meat, water from a rock, victory over an aggressive army of Amelekites and finally they arrive at Mt. Sinai. All of the miracles that God provided for them they could either see, hear, taste, smell or feel. You would think that the story would take a turn for good. Here the people of God have seen and experienced first-hand God’s care and protection. Then we read: “Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” [Ex 24:18] What follows is an amazing teaching about our hearts. God has lots to tell Moses and this delays Moses return. The people of God get restless this throws a monkey wrench into their sight-based faith [actually this is an oxy-moron].  

 

Advantage / Benefit:

It was electrifying news circulating amongst the disheartened disciples. Jesus Christ has come out of the tomb. He is risen from the dead! He told us that He would and He has done it. Just as he had said he would. They were excited. “We have seen the Lord!” [John 20:25] all of the disciples excitedly confirmed … all that is but one. Thomas hear them but could not bring himself to believe it. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side,” he exclaimed, “I will not believe it” (John 20:25). “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side” he explained to the others, “I will not believe.” A few day later, saw by sight what he refused to believe by faith, when Jesus provided the opportunity for him to see in person and examine His wounds. Then “Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.

 

We are all on a journey of faith. Want to learn how not to make the journey? Learn from the people of God on that long ago journey. They lacked faith. Because they lacked faith, doubt caused disobedience which kept an entire generation of God’s people from their inheritance — “So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. [Hebrews 3:19] Pastor Ralph has been carefully laying the frame work in these last few Sunday sermons so we can avoid the outcome that the people of the Exodus experienced. They perished in the wilderness. God wants us to be warned today. Living by faith is essential to living as pleasing to God. [Hebrews 4:1-3] “So we fix our eyes,” Paul wrote, “not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal…. We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:7).

 

THREE Applications:

A1:     “Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control…” [v.25]Don’t let yourself get out of control in the dark by rejecting what God has shown you in the light.

 

A2:      Rebellion makes us do crazy things. Rejecting God, no matter how small the matter, causes us to believe our own lies even when we know someone will not believe what we are saying.  “… and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” [v.24] Really? Surely Aaron did not think Moses would believe such a story?

 

A3:      “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Heb 12:3]

“See, I have told you beforehand.” Jesus

Judgment Day on May 21, 2011?

For months now there have been billboards on freeways and flyers circulating about the coming judgment of God on the world.  People are asking questions as to how can anyone teach that Christ’s return will happen on a particular day?  Some Christians have seen this phenomenon predicted more than once in their lives and so chalk it up to a nut-case.  Some Christians see the billboards and wonder because they do not know their Bible.  Some Christians read what appears to be a Godly pamphlet and wonder if they have missed something.  And Satan smiles with delight.

Last week I was out doing my daily walk, noticed an eight-page pamphlet on the sidewalk claiming “THE END OF THE WORLD IS ALMOST HERE!”  Picking it up I skimmed through it as I walked and found nothing obviously or blatantly wrong … as a matter of fact it sounded really evangelical.  I folded it up and stuck it in my pocket for further analysis.  What I discovered is a lie couched in some bible verses.  Here are some excerpts:

“…about 35 years ago God began to open the true believers’ understanding of the timeline of history. Thus it was discovered that the Bible teaches that when the events of the past are coordinated with our modern calendar, we can learn dates of history … However, it was not until a very few years ago that the accurate knowledge of the entire timeline of history was revealed to true believers by God from the Bible.”  It continues on by saying: “During these past several years God has been revealing a great many truths, which have been completely hidden in the Bible until this time when we are so near the end of the world.”

“Several years ago we had learned that the silence in Heaven for about half an hour referred to the 2,300 days that were the first part of the 23-year (exactly 8,400 days) Great Tribulation period. This period began on May 21, 1988. It was during this 2,300-day period that, both in the churches and throughout the world, very few, if any, were saved.”

“We had learned that May 21, 1988 was the last day of the church age and was also the first day of the 23-year period of Great Tribulation, during which Satan has been employed by God to officially rule all of the churches as well as the whole world. During the first 2,300 days of this 8,400-day period the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from all of the churches as well as the entire world. This produced silence in Heaven. However, beginning 2,300 days after May 21, 1988 (the end of the church age), the Holy Spirit was again poured out, producing what the Bible calls the “latter rain” (Zechariah 10:1; James 5:7) throughout the world (but not in any church), and God began a final great harvest of salvation, bringing great joy in Heaven. This salvation is not occurring in any church, but will continue outside of the churches to the end of the Great Tribulation, on May 21, 2011.[1]

Jesus, in His own words told the disciples: “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” [Act 1:7] Jesus, the Master Teacher did not make mistakes or have after thoughts about what He spoke about.  The tone of what He plainly said “It is not for you to know…” seems to imply that we can ask but we will not get an answer.  Jesus spoke these words as He was departing from the disciples.  They were asking questions that were running through their collective minds.  These were troubling times for them.  I agree with one commentator who said that this was a rebuke to them and a cautionary statement for the church down through the ages.  Beware of getting focused on the wrong things; intruding into things that I have expressly stated as forbidden knowledge.  The implication for the church is there are limits to our curiosity.  In other words: “…concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” [This is quoting Jesus from Mat 24:36]  Finding scriptural evidence to the contrary of what Jesus spoke plainly about is walking into Satan’s trap.

I am reminded of Gen 3:1 where we have the account of Eve’s walking into Satan’s trap. “Now the serpent was craftier than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  We seem to feel that we know more than God and that we should understand more than we are capable of understanding.  Eve looked at the tree and saw it was good looking fruit.  Instead of remembering exactly what God had told them about this particular tree, she missed the subtle shift that Satan included in his misquoting God.  God said: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” [Gen 2:16-17]  Satan, always the liar, quoted God as saying: ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’

Like Eve, we miss what is right because we fail to remember to go to the Source of all knowledge.  Instead we create perplexing questions that take our eyes off of Jesus.  By doing that we miss the very next thing that Jesus told His inquiring disciples: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Act 1:8] You are asking about end times but that question is irrelevant to the business that I want you as my church to be about.  Being my witnesses is you work now and in the future until I change it.

Jesus warned clearly that the church would encounter people creating parties and factions.  Jesus warned that Satan appears as an angel of light so that he can deceive people with the greatest evil with a convincing show of what appears good.  Jesus warns that Satan will incite men who pretend that they have some special insight or divine inspiration that runs outside of the Word of God but it is a lie.  Jesus warns that Satan will take advantage when there is trouble that threatens our security; people will seek out anything that looks like salvation.

Mat 24:5 “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” Verse 24: “… false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

Jesus warns us to be watchful by paying attention to all of His words!  “See, I have told you beforehand.” [Mat 24:25]