Cutting Through the Deception

Random House Dictionary defines deception as, “The state of being deceived.” It further defines deceive “To mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude.” The biggest deceivers in our lives are usually us. I can convince myself that I am living a life pleasing to Christ, all the while going back to a besetting sin like a dog returns to his vomit.

Self-deception is not a 21st Century phenomenon; the Apostle John addressed this delusion from which many in the new church suffered:

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Falling Apart

Imagine your worst day ever, or perhaps you don’t have to imagine it. You’ve already faced your worst day. It was a day that you did not think you would survive. Perhaps the death of a loved one unexpectedly visited your home. Or maybe financial ruin crumbled life as you knew it. It could be that you are facing such a time right now.

To where do you turn in times of trial? For me, it is always helpful to have people in my life who have been through the same or similar fire to give me counsel. When my son Eddie was killed in Iraq nearly nine years ago, a woman named Debbie Lee came into Karen and my lives. She was a Gold Star Mom who lost her son Marc a year prior. She is like a sister to us. She has been a solid rock to lean on in trying times.

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At Our Disposal

Just about every Christian radio station you listen to has its daily “power verse.” While I appreciate a good Bible verse every day, I wonder how many Christians actually allow the Scriptures to strengthen their daily lives?

Do we seek God’s word for His wisdom and strength to get through our workaday lives, or are we using Bible verses like a quick charge from an energy drink? Of course, turning to the Bible for strength in moments of weakness does help us get through the day, but God wants us to thrive instead of just survive.

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Panic Prayers

Fear is the enemy of faith. My fear can overwhelm me if I’m looking with worldly eyes. When I see the state of my country, I fear for its future. This fear is not unfounded, however, if my fear is calculated without God, then it is unfounded.

Jesus’ disciples were facing a life-threatening moment, one in which all of us would no doubt be fearful. We should be able to totally relate to their fear and nod our heads in understanding, and yet Jesus rebuked them for having little faith:

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Stopped Loving God

At a recent men’s Bible study, we had split up into small prayer groups when one of the gentlemen in my group said that he had once fallen out of love with God. I told my group I once believed that is what happened, but in actuality we stop loving God.

When someone falls out of love with another, that relationship is usually over. This is how so many divorces happen. However, if a person has stopped loving another, they’ve allowed their love to grow dormant, and that can be rekindled with purposeful effort.

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A Friend So Faithful

A brother from my church recently shared how his daughter had been told by her best friend that she no longer wanted to be friends. As you can imagine, this young girl’s feelings were greatly hurt. There are few emotions that sting greater than being betrayed or rejected. The pain literally sears our soul.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a friend who would never betray, leave, or reject us?

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An Opportunity to Escape

The call of God on the Christian’s life can be frightening. We say we want to serve the Lord, and yet we pray “except” prayers. You know which ones I’m talking about; “Lord, I’ll do anything and go anywhere you want me to except…” You can fill in the rest.

What we don’t realize is that we when refuse His call, we are being disobedient to God. One of the most infamous acts of disobedience in the Bible is that of Jonah. God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against the wickedness of that city. The Bible tells us:

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Excusing Our Unbelief

There are times when my lack of faith turns to unbelief. This means I get to the point in my walk with Christ that I think something is beyond His control. I may try to soften the blow by saying I am lacking faith, but I have actually shifted into the realm of unbelief. I will either demand a sign from God or just head out into the wilderness on my own.

The scribes and Pharisees were notorious for demanding Jesus to show them a sign. The most despicable one is when they mocked Jesus on the cross, demanding He come down from it so that they would believe in Him. Another example is found in Matthew 12:

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Needing More Light

One of the greatest gifts God bestows upon His born-again children is wisdom. Wisdom is portrayed in the Bible as a gift more precious than gold. Wisdom is defined in Ewell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology as “Divine wisdom given by God, that enables humans to lead a good and true and satisfying life; it cannot be derived by human intelligence.”

With all that has happened in our country lately, the days seem devilishly dark. Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light. Where the church has failed its flock is trying to apply human reasoning and wisdom to issues that can only be solved through heavenly wisdom. Instead of seeking earthly experts, we should be searching for divine discernment:

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Finish What He Started

Giving up in life has become the new easy. If something becomes too hard, we just quit and move on to the next great adventure or idea. A trail of unfinished products and projects are strewn behind us like a pathway of defeat and misery. If things don’t go our way, we just find a new way. Abandonment is how we deal with setbacks.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t give up on us so easy? Imagine if God saw my behavior and said, “That’s it David, I can’t take this relationship anymore! You’ve failed me one time too many.” Now, if God was like that He would have given up on me some thirty years ago. Thankfully our God is abundantly gracious and merciful. I love the chorus from the MercyMe song “Finish What He Started:”

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Walking in Liberty

Two-hundred and forty years ago today, fifty-six men signed a document that was the equivalent of signing their own arrest warrant. If arrested, these men would be tried for treason, have all their earthly possessions confiscated, and mostly likely be executed.

Why did the signers of the Declaration of Independence decide that liberty was more important than anything else? What motivated these men to “ mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” How did they come to the conclusion that liberty, above all, was worthy dying?

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True Charity

Travis BishopI want you to meet an everyday saint named Travis Bishop. He is a Christian business owner from Martinsburg, West Virginia. Brother Travis saw the devastation brought on by the floods that are ravishing his neighbors in nearby Clendenin. Travis decided to do something about it. Brother Travis has been leading a rescue operation for the past seven days, closing up his business and spearheading an effort to meet the needs of people. You can listen to an interview he did on my friend Tom Roten’s radio show here:

http://tinyurl.com/zp9qlrl

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Behavior Betraying Beliefs

One of my greatest challenges as a Christian is being judgmental. At times it seems like there is a fine line between standing on the word of God and casting my personal judgments upon another. If I am going to be a dispenser of grace, I have to take into account the dual nature of a Christian. This does not mean that I excuse sin, but I should not be quick to judge a person as lost because of their behavior. As my pastor says, “Sometimes are beliefs don’t match our behavior.”

Pastor Dennis was talking of the time when David pretended to be insane in the land of Gath, the home of Goliath. Saul had been pursuing David to kill him out of jealousy and David fearfully fled to enemy territory instead of relying on God to protect him. This is why in his later years David could write:

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A Shrinking God

In the past week it has become abundantly clear that the American church is in a state of panic. We are panicking about the outcome of an election that is still over four months away. We are making predictions as though we have eyes into the future. The sad part of all this is these predictions of doom and gloom are the same ones I’ve heard in the last eight years. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Oswald Chamber once wrote that fear is calculating without God. For some reason, Christians cannot imagine God intervening into the affairs of man, including our elections. It is sad that of all the Founding Fathers who were Christians, it took a non-believer in Benjamin Franklin to remind them of a sovereign God:

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Making Disciples

I was recently reminded of the importance of discipling other Christians to help them grow in their walk with Christ. As a Bible teacher, a great privilege and responsibility has been given to me of which I should never think less. We often think of the Great Commission as mainly witnessing to the lost. That is important, but that does not encompass all of Jesus’ charge:

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

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Houses Becoming Hotels

In his first letter at the end of his life, the Apostle Peter left instructions to Christians on how to serve for God’s glory. One area that Peter instructs us was on hospitality. In fact, the Bible puts great value on Christians being hospitable to each other. Why? It is because Jesus said that the world would know Him by Christians’ love for one another. Peter reminds us of that admonition:

“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:8-9)

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Disgracing the Cross

This past Sunday, our Youth Pastor Andrew Bosak said that refusing to forgive is a disgrace to the cross. That immediately struck a chord in my spirit because I personally know what bitterness can do to a person’s soul. My angst towards my father for more than twenty years almost ruined me emotionally. When I finally recommitted my life to Christ, surrendering all control to Him, the first thing the Holy Spirit instructed me to do was to forgive my father.

I was overwhelmed by the thought. I thought getting back to Christ and living a sold out life to Him would be incremental. It has been, but Jesus knows my heart and He knew that the biggest stumbling block in my life was my bitterness towards my father. I had to forgive him if I wanted to grow in my walk with Christ. Andrew reminded me of the verse that God showed me to help me along:

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Grace for the Race

The Christian life has been described as a journey or a marathon. The Bible describes it as a race, but it is a long one not unlike a marathon. However, it is a journey in which we should not only strive to finish, but also to enjoy and mature. At the end of my life, I want to be able to utter the same words as the Apostle Paul:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

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Biblically Breaking Bones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was a little chant we were taught to say as kids when someone said something mean to us. However, it was only half true. Words can hurt us and we are capable of saying some of the meanest things when we are upset or even impatient with someone.

Some of the meanest words I’ve seen recently has been from those commenting on presidential candidates, including from presidential candidates themselves. Somehow in our society we’ve come to point where we think insults, off-color humor, and snarkiness are the only means of persuasion. King Solomon knew better:

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Repairing the Fracture

Bitterness is emotional cancer and will eventually destroy the life of the embittered one and those around him or her. There can be a number of reasons for someone to feel bitterness towards someone or something, but in the end none of those reasons really matter. What really matters, is that if you hold bitterness in your heart, you will suffer more than anyone else.

I’ve seen a lot of bitterness come out of this presidential election cycle. Satan must be delighting in all he sees. No matter where you stand politically, if you have been involved in this year’s election, you’ve no doubt been attacked or worse yet been on the attack.

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