August 12: Don’t Covet

Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10
This week we are exploring the commandment, “Do not covet.” A wise friend of mine often says, “Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.” Why? Because the more we desire something, the more we build up and embellish it in our minds. Wouldn’t it be great to have all the money so-and-so has? I’d love to have a house/car/boat/you-name-it like them. If only I was in their shoes, just think of the prestige and fame that would be mine! I am also reminded of another wise saying: “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

The point here is two-fold. First, if we were to get what we think we want, we would most likely be very disappointed in how the reality falls far short of our puffed-up expectations. It doesn’t measure up. It gets old and out-dated. It breaks. Second, once attained, the objects of our desire often come with some very unexpected consequences. A big house/car/boat requires much cleaning, maintenance and expense. A long-awaited promotion includes loads of headaches and endless hours. What we have possess us instead of the other way around.

When we ignore the things God has already given us in striving for what we do not have, our level of contentment plummets. I find it very interesting that today’s passage mentions food and clothing but does not include the last of the big three we feel are absolutes – shelter. Would I be content with just food and clothing? Not even a little. The point here isn’t that I should aspire to live life like a homeless guy, but rather that my bar for contentment should be set very low.

Why would I be happier living this way? It isn’t too hard to grasp the idea that we can’t take anything with us when we leave this life. If God wants the absolute best for my time here on earth, verses 9 and 10 give me a glimpse into navigating that time successfully. Seeking the riches I think I want is a temptation and a trap of foolishness. Not only is it harmful, it will result in exactly what I don’t want: ruin and destruction. In wandering from contentment found in the family of faith, I only end up pierced with grief from chasing that which I can’t ultimately keep.

What are you chasing in your life?

Wade Karhan

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August 11: Jesus Changes Everything

Read 1 John 1: 5-9

Over the past seven days we have taken a look at the Exodus 20 command of “You shall not give false testimony.” As we have learned, lying can come in many different forms, yet the underlying principle is the same- deception for personal gain. The idea that I am going to tell someone something, hide something from someone, or exaggerate an idea to make myself look better. I can’t think of any other reason why we would lie, can you?

This series, especially this specific command, can sound too legalistic if we aren’t careful. Every week we have essentially been looking at the do’s and don’ts of the Christian faith. Yet, there is an underlying idea to the whole series that John teaches us in todays passage. God gives us directions like the Ten Commandments to help give us context to how He has designed our lives to be lived. However, as the result of our sin nature, He knew we would never be able to meet His expectations, so He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to rescue us.

All too often I think we look at our faith like we do the menu at McDonalds. “I need to order a grilled chicken wrap, a small fry, and a small Diet Coke, but not a regular Coke because of the calories, and I can order ice cream only if it’s a Sunday because I can have sugar then.” Sounds very similar to “well I prayed today, I spent some time in the word, and I didn’t lie- so it was a good day!” But that’s not the type of faith God calls us to. Yes, reading your Bible, spending time in prayer, and not lying certainly make Him pleased, but it is a changed heart He seeks. A heart that is so in love with Jesus that you are running in relentless pursuit after Him, allowing His grace to slowly transform you to look more like Him.

You can’t fight this fight on your own. You will never win. If you’re going through this Ten Commandment series by trying to lie less, have fewer idols, and just check off boxes, you are going to end up sorely disappointed. The fact of the matter is that we need to heed John’s words today. Confess your sins to the Lord, and allow Him to cleanse you and change your heart, one piece at a time.

TAB

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August 10: How Pride Leads to Deception

Read Luke 20:19-26

Shame and guilt color my memories of our conversation. He’d asked a question and I answered with untruth. I’d been trying to protect my reputation, and just like that, my integrity was gone.

I know both sides of deception. I’ve been the deceived. And, like the chief priests and teachers of the law, I’ve been the deceiver, working to convince others that I’m something I’m not.

Today’s reading finds Israel’s religious leaders fighting to preserve their own opinions at any cost. They’d become so comfortable with their own ways to uphold God’s Law that they forgot God. Rather than humbly serving Him, these men had given themselves to self-preservation for the sake of their pride. And deception always starts with pride. Pride had blinded these men from the Truth who was standing right in front of them. (See John 14:6.)

It isn’t just about paying taxes, although Jesus’ words here are on point. Deeper still is the principle that pride and deception go hand-in-hand. In fact, commandment number one, “Do not have other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3) lays the foundation for this one, “Do not give false testimony . . .” (Ex. 20: 15). In other words, don’t serve anything or anyone except the One True God — not even yourself. But this is exactly what the scribes and chief priests had done.

Maybe you can relate. You’re faced with an embarrassing situation at work, so you cover your tracks to protect your image. Suddenly you find yourself serving the god called self. Or your employer tries to pay you under the table “for the financial good of both parties” — no payroll taxes for him, no income taxes for you. It just takes a little deception to protect the financial security of your home, your family, your status. But that’s not serving God. It’s serving self. Or maybe yours isn’t so blatant. Maybe you’ve toyed with presenting less than the truth to your husband about the cost of that Coach purse you got last week. Who do you serve?

Have you let the Lord Almighty be the true Lord of your life? Do you trust Him to protect your image even when you have to admit embarrassing things or give up some money or risk your husband’s anger? Or are you serving yourself at the expense of your integrity?

 

-BW

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August 9: Gossip

Read Proverbs 16:28

When reviewing the topic of “False Testimony”, I believe one area where lines have been blurred is gossip. If we were to point Proverbs 16:28 out to someone we know who often finds themselves gossiping, I am confident that their response would be one of denial or excuse.

I find in our culture today we excuse everything as if an excuse makes the action better; “I only was venting because I knew they would understand”, “We were only discussing this because…” etc. God is clear, in Galatians 5:17-26, on what life in Him looks like. Any time we are acting against the Spirit we are indulging in the flesh and God clearly states that “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (vs25).

Proverbs 16:28 gets straight to the point, if you are someone who enjoys stirring conflict between two people, His Word calls you perverse. If you are somebody who gossips, His Word is stating that you are the cause of separation between two people.

I implore you, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, ask yourself “Would Christ enjoy or take delight in how I am talking about this person or people?” I can assure you, He does not because in Matthew 12:31, Jesus plainly says “to love your neighbor as yourself”.

Christ did not only come to the world to save it, but to build relationships while He was in it; this alone causes me to pause and think of those around me and how I speak about them to other people.

It is so easy to give our opinion about a person or subject, however, if we truly love the Lord our God, with ALL our hearts, mind and body, then we will begin loving our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers, our colleagues, those in our small group, as ourselves.

Bottom line is, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you are to bear HIS testimony. You are called to be HIM to everyone around you and if you are gossiping or slandering others, how can you show them light?

Practice guarding yourself and others in form of conversation with others. Train yourself with the tools in order to speak to others as Christ was standing right next to you. Too many people take this lightly, but it is a powerful thing when looking with the spiritual eye.

KL

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August 8: Jacob and Esau

Read Genesis 27:1-46

The story of Jacob and Esau brings to light the pain that deception can create in a family. Being lied to by a stranger, acquaintance, or even friend, has a totally different impact than being lied to by your own flesh and blood. While the emotions of betrayal, hurt, and frustration might be similar, there is a certain rawness to having been deceived by those you love.

Esau certainly experienced this raw pain. The text says more than once that he burst out with a loud cry, and wept. He was hurt. His own brother, out of selfish ambition, had intentionally tricked his father into giving him a blessing that he did not deserve. Yet, the story gets even more frustrating for Esau when his father tells him that he will now be a servant to his brother. I can’t imagine the feelings Esau must have felt in this moment. The inheritance his father had promised him, was essentially stolen from him by the hands of his own brother, Jacob, whom now he was ordered to be a serve.

This story might seem like it’s outlandish in our modern context, but is it really? I hear all too often about folks who file lawsuits against their own family members in battles to claim an inheritance that is “rightfully” theirs. The reality is the deception described in the account in Genesis 27 is still very representative of the pain we inflict upon our family members today. Families can be turned upside down by even just one relative playing up some big lie. Whether it is boasting about a life they really aren’t living, stealing something that isn’t theirs, or being deceitful about a situation, the bottom line is lies kill. They can kill connection, kill relationships, and kill families.

We have hope however; that even the deepest of wounds can be healed through the power of Jesus Christ.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

We all mess up sometimes. It’s a part of who we are. However, how you respond to your “mess up” will define how your relationship with your family moves forward. Whether you have been on the giving or receiving end of deceit in your family, prioritize reconciliation. Seek forgiveness to those you have wronged, and forgive those who have hurt you. By God’s grace wounds can be healed.

TAB

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August 7: White Lies

Read Genesis 12:10-20

Modern society is really into white lies. We even give them a softening name. But what does the Bible teach on the subject of lying, and are “white” lies really a problem if we have pure motives? The issue might come down to taking God at His Word.

Abraham goes down in history as our role model for believing God. After all, this man left everything he’d known to follow God to the unknown. Abram (before God changed his name) was rooted in God. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be rooted in my family culture, ownership, creature-comforts, but Abraham had his roots in the right place most of the time!

Abram had moments when even he didn’t take God at His Word. In Genesis 12, we read that Abram and Sarai (later “Sarah”) were suffering famine, so they headed to Egypt. In route, Abram concocted a “white” lie to tell the Egyptians. He believed the Egyptians would see Sarai’s beauty, and kill him so they could capture her. Abram asked Sarai to engage in this “white lie” with him and tell the Egyptians that she was his sister. If I was Abram, I would have thought that I was “helping” God keep His end of the covenant by preserving my own life. Plus having him around would be best for Sarai, right? I would have thought that this would hurt no one, and therefore be best for everyone. The problem is, Abram wasn’t God, and he did not take or trust God at His Word! God did not need Abram’s help in this way. Verse 17 tells us that the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of this “white” lie. Abram ended up looking silly when Pharaoh had more decency and discretion than him! Pharaoh said, “…Now then here is your wife. Take her and go!” (v. 19)

God cannot lie. We are called to imitate God. When we take Him at His Word, we show the watching world (the “Pharaohs”) that He is Truth and He is the ultimate Promise-keeper. When we take matters into our own hands—even if it’s just a seemingly little “white” lie—we send the opposite message. We take back the reins of leadership and authorship that we’ve already given to God.

Sacha Kauffman

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August 6: Your Words Define You

Read Matthew 15:16-20

Have you ever taken part in a fad diet? Whether it is the South Beach, the Jenny Craig special, or most recently the keto diet, our culture seems to be overrun with new ideas on how to keep our bodies healthy. While physical health is certainly both important and biblical (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), the Scripture we read today calls us to condition our bodies and our hearts.

Your words define you. As Jesus says in these verses in the book of Matthew the words you speak are indicative of where your heart is. When we become believers, our hearts are changed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes this process can be painstaking, it can be slow, it might even hurt a little. Yet, our hearts look different than they did prior to our salvation. When we experience the glorious love of God, our hearts cannot help but to be changed. As John writes about in his first letter to the church- the love of Jesus challenges us to love others (1 John 3).

“The words you speak come from the heart- that’s what defiles you.” Matthew 15:18

Words have always represented a point of struggle for humanity. Still, it is arguably easier for us today than ever before to cast aspersions upon people, defame them, and tear them down, as we sit on our couch and hide behind the keyboard posting to social media. Nothing seems quite as frustrating as seeing those who are followers of Jesus Christ tear down others on online platforms, engaging in heated debates about issues that have no eternal importance.

Christ’s words here are clear- your words, whether typed, written, or spoken, are indicative of the position of your heart. I’m certainly not perfect here either. I have a long way to go in this area. (Perhaps you remember my reference to my morning commute on RT. 8 a few weeks ago!) But I wonder where you might be with this today. Do the words you say point people to the cross? Are they focused on matters of eternal significance? Or are they harsh, rash, and impatient?

Take some time today reflecting on some of your recent conversations. Think about recent interactions when you’ve been frustrated, or sad, or maybe even tempted to bear false witness about something. Ask God to continue to change your heart, so the words you say take the gospel forward. Pray for the Lord to breath life into your words even during hard times.

TAB

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