“Could you be raising little hypocrites?” February 17

 

Raising Little Hypocrites - Hypocrites! Jesus rebuked the religious leaders with that accusation. Could we be guilty of hypocrisy, too? And what about our parenting? Is the goal to have well-behaved children and could we be in danger of raising little hypocrites?Hypocrites! Jesus rebuked the religious leaders with that accusation. Could we be guilty of hypocrisy, too? And what about our parenting? Is the goal to have well-behaved children and could we be in danger of raising little hypocrites? How does understanding the deeper issues help us point our children to Christ?

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 5 & 6
Psalm 24.1-6
Proverbs 9.7-9
Matthew 28.1-20

 

Raising Little Hypocrites

 

Leviticus 5 & 6:

Open My Eyes, Lord

 

Sometimes we find it challenging to read about all the sacrifices and the instructions for them. But it is important to remember that 2 Timothy 3.16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable …” Notice those words “all” and “profitable.” God inspired these passages and included them in His Holy Scriptures for a reason. We need to remain faithful and open our hearts to the truths contained in them.

Anytime we are reading a passage that is less exciting to us, we can ask God to show us what He has for us. There are always nuggets if we are willing to dig for them.

The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Ps. 119.18).

Ask Him to help you see, “Is there a command here that I need to obey? Is there a sin I need to forsake? Is there a relationship I need to reconcile? Is there a truth I need to understand?”

 

Sacrifice Alone

 

With that in mind, notice Leviticus 5.4:

‘Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it—when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.

Sometimes we sin, either by speaking harshly or in some other way, and the Holy Spirit convicts us. What we do at that point is so important. Do we harden our hearts and refuse to repent or are we quick to repent and seek forgiveness from God and others we’ve sinned against?

And 6.1-2:

¹ And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “If a person sins and commits a trespass against the Lord by lying to his neighbor …

Anytime we sin, we’re not just sinning against people, we’re sinning against the Lord.

But I’d like to focus on 5.5 today:

“And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.”

Even at this point in history, sacrifice alone was not enough. It had to be accompanied by faith, repentance, and obedience.

How does that verse speak to us today?

How many times have we been guilty of doing all the outward acts associated with Christian living and yet in our hearts we were filled with doubt instead of faith? Or gone to church and lifted our hands in worship while there was anger and bitterness in our hearts toward a spouse, family member, co-worker or friend?

Were we just “playing church,” as if that would make us right with God?

How many times have we insisted that our children say “I’m sorry” to a sibling when we knew it was not genuine?

True repentance involves “confession,” that is to agree with God that what we did was sin. It’s more than, merely, saying “I’m sorry,” because I was “caught” or as if it’s some form of penance. It’s about heart change. That is, a change in thinking which leads to a change of actions.

 

Hypocrites

 

“Hypocrites” is an ugly word, but that’s what Jesus called those who did “religious things” outwardly without true worship from the heart. If that’s you today, go to God, seek His forgiveness and cleansing. Ask Him to make you a true worshiper.

 

Little Hypocrites

 

And the next time you’re tempted to tell your child, “Say you’re sorry!” Think about it … are you teaching your child to be a hypocrite? You need to take the time to help him see that what he did was sin. Use the Word of God to share with your child, prayerfully asking God to convict his or her heart.

Saying “I’m sorry,” certainly isn’t the only way we teach our children to be hypocrites. We may inadvertently do so any time we address behavior without addressing the heart issue behind it.

Let me share an explanation and example from Tedd Tripp’s book Shepherding a Child’s Heart. It’s a little long, but worth taking the time to read it:  Continue reading

“Religious Pretenders” February 6

 

 

Religious Pretenders - It's so easy to let hypocritical attitudes creep into our hearts and allow ourselves to become religious pretenders. We may look good on the outside, but have hearts full of envy, greed, anger, worry, and self-righteousness. In the process we lose the joy of our salvation and find ourselves just going through the motions of the Christian life.It’s so easy to let hypocritical attitudes creep into our hearts and allow ourselves to become religious pretenders. We may look good on the outside, but have hearts full of envy, greed, anger, worry, and self-righteousness. In the process we lose the joy of our salvation and find ourselves just going through the motions of the Christian life.

 

Today’s Reading:
Exodus 23 & 24
Psalm 19.1-6
Proverbs 6.30-31
Matthew 23.23-39

 

Religious Pretenders

 

Matthew 23.23-39

Straining Gnats & Swallowing Camels

 

take off maskBeginning in yesterday’s reading, Jesus, in talking to the scribes and Pharisees, uses the phrase “woe to you” eight times. He calls them hypocrites, religious pretenders who attempted to look good on the outside with all their religious deeds. But he said they were full of spiritual death inside. They lacked love and mercy, justice and faith. They believed their religious activities and long public prayers made them better than everyone else. They refused to see themselves as sinners in need of a Savior.

They loved themselves instead of the poor and needy. They legalistically carried out the law against others without mercy. In verse 24 He called them “blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” They not only couldn’t see where they were going, but were leading others astray also. They couldn’t or wouldn’t see their own sinful hearts. Because of their knowledge of the law and pretending to live it, He said they would receive a “greater condemnation.”

The law designated certain things as clean and others as unclean, including animals. Unclean animals, like camels, could be used as beasts of burden, etc., but were not to be eaten or used as sacrifices. This was a picture to them, and us, of God’s desire to have a people set apart for Himself with clean hearts—a holy people.

Gnats were the smallest of the unclean animals and camels the largest. Some of the Pharisees would strain their drinks through cloth to keep from inadvertently swallowing a gnat. They focused on all the religious “minors,” while ignoring the “majors”—the attitudes of the heart.  Continue reading

“I never knew you!” September 28

 

I never knew you

I can’t imagine anything worse than believing you are alright with God and when you stand before Him, hear these words, “I never knew you.” Could it happen to you?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 47 & 48
Psalm 111.7-10
Proverbs 26.11-12
Galatians 6.1-18

 

I never knew you!

 

Isaiah 47 & 48:

Trusting in Self, False Gods or Sorceries

 

In chapter 47, the Babylonians thought they were strong and secure and untouchable. They trusted in themselves, their false gods, and their sorceries. They had set themselves against God and would soon be judged.

Like the Babylonians many today are busy enjoying their ease and success and power. Many of them have set themselves against God. They belittle His people as weak and God as merely a crutch. They want to make their own rules. Their first commandment is “Thou shalt not be intolerant of anything I want to do!” Even when they claim to believe in Him, they pervert the Word of God, twisting it to make it say the opposite of what it does.

They wrongly interpret God’s patience and tolerance.

“They have lied about the LORD and said, ‘He won’t bother us! No disasters will come upon us. There will be no war or famine’” (Jer. 5.12 NLT).

Instead of seeing God’s patience and mercy as an opportunity to repent, they decide there will never be a day of accounting.

 

Wheat, Tares, and Hypocrites

 

Then in chapter 48, God speaks to those who call themselves His people. Though He continues to assure them that He will not utterly destroy them because of His mercy and grace, he promises to judge those who hypocritically claim to believe one thing while practicing another.

In the New Testament Jesus told “the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.” He acknowledged there are many tares, unbelievers, growing alongside the wheat, believers. But he said:

“Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matt. 13.30).

Many, even in our churches, are in danger of hearing the shocking truth when they stand before Him:

“‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7.23).

 

Test Yourselves

 

Paul said in our New Testament reading, “But let each one examine his own work …” (Gal. 6.4). And in his instructions for taking the Lord’s Supper:  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 2: The Same Only Different + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 2: The Same Only Differednt -

Blended families are everywhere. Maybe your family is a blended or step-family. If so, you know blended families face unique challenges and issues. But while our problems may be unique in their details, the heart issues involved are much the same as those individuals and all families face.

 

Blended Families Part 2: “The Same Only Different”

 

In part 1, we talked about some of the very real losses that members of step families face and the importance of examining our own attitudes, actions and desires. Understanding those losses can help us become more understanding and asking God to help us examine our own actions is vitally important and an essential first step in the process of growth and change.

 

Charlatans & Frauds

 

Matthew 7.3-4 says:
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?(NLT)

Jesus was very descriptive in this passage, wasn’t He? My paraphrase is, “Who do you think you are, trying to get a speck out of someone else’s eye when you can’t see past that giant log in your own?” Then He starts the next verse with the words, “You hypocrite …!” (v. 5).

Two synonyms for the word hypocrite are charlatan and fraud. The Encarta Dictionary defines it as, “somebody who pretends to have admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings but behaves otherwise.”

When we preach doing right to our family members and then respond in sinful, unloving ways, we’re playing the hypocrite! We’re frauds!

 

Why is this so important?

 

James, chapter 1:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

“Deceiving yourselves.” There is delusion, spiritual blindness, that occurs when we fail to examine our hearts and actions by looking into the mirror of God’s Word with a view to obeying it. We can respond selfishly and sinfully to others while believing we’re completely justified.

We face enough challenges in blended families, why add spiritual blindness to the list? But by looking into that mirror and being a doer of it, there is blessing.

And Hebrews 5 says:
14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

We have the ability to discern good and evil; that is we have wisdom, when we practice doing what’s right. So the difference between removing our own logs and being a doer of the Word, as opposed to being a hearer and not a doer, is the difference between delusion and wisdom.

By the way, James, the writer of the book by the same name, was the half-brother of Jesus. There were other siblings, too (Mk. 6.3), and Joseph was His step-father. That makes Jesus part of a blended family. More about His earthly family and other blended Bible families later.

But there is something else we need to understand about being a hypocrite or a fraud. When we tell others, particularly our children and step-children, they must respond one way (loving, kind, accepting, patient, etc.) and we do something else, we’re completely discrediting ourselves and end up provoking our children to anger (Eph. 6.4; Col. 3.21). It’s hard to imagine anyone not resenting a fraud and children are no different.

 

Unique Yet the Same

 

In part 1, I stressed the fact that blended families face some unique challenges, and that’s certainly true. But while our problems may be unique in their details, the heart issues involved are much the same as those all individuals and all families face.  Continue reading

February 21 “Sin: contagious & disfiguring”

Sin is disfiguring and highly contagious. Paul warned that we can catch it from others and that it’s better to be thrown into the sea with a weight around our necks than to be a carrier spreading it to others.

sin is contagious

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 13
Psalm 25.16-22
Proverbs 10.4-5
Mark 3.1-19

Leviticus 13:

Unclean! Unclean!

Leprosy! What could God possibly have for us in all the discussion of bright skin, white skin, scales and scabs?

Notice that God called this leprosy an uncleanness, not a disease. It was not the same disease we refer to today as leprosy (Hansen’s Disease). It is said that Pharaoh (of Moses fame) was infected with it and may have died from it. So it may have been associated with the plagues that God brought on the Egyptians. Even in the New Testament, when Jesus came in contact with lepers, it says He cleansed them, not that He healed them.

Leprosy in the Bible is a type, or a picture of, sin. When God delivered the nation of Israel from Egypt, he told them, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Ex. 15.26). Continue reading

February 17 “How to raise little hypocrites”

 

hypocrites

What is your goal in parenting? Is it to have well-behaved children? Be careful … raising little hypocrites can be easier than you might think.

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 5 & 6
Psalm 24.1-6
Proverbs 9.7-9
Matthew 28.1-20

 

Leviticus 5 & 6:

Open my eyes, Lord

Sometimes we find it challenging to read about all the sacrifices and the instructions for them. But it is important to remember that 2 Timothy 3.16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable …” Notice those words “all” and “profitable.” God inspired these passages and included them in His Holy Scriptures for a reason. We need to remain faithful and open our hearts to the truths contained in them.

Anytime we are reading a passage that is less exciting to us we can ask God to show us what He has for us in the passage. There are always nuggets for us if we are willing to dig for them.

The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Ps. 119.18).

Ask yourself, “Is there a command I need to obey here? Is there a sin I need to forsake? Is there a relationship I need to reconcile? Is there a truth I need to understand?”

 

Sacrifice alone

With that in mind, notice Leviticus 5.5, “And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.”

Even at this point in history, sacrifice alone was just religion. It had to be accompanied by faith, repentance, and obedience.

How does that verse speak to us today? Continue reading