Sunday, October 31, 2010

Deceived Heart

21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
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.
26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.
(James 1:21-26, New King James Version)

Deceived Heart

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Sometimes, as Christians, we forget one of the most necessary and important duties of being a Christian. As Christian teen, (as a matter of fact, all Christians), we must be very careful to guard our hearts. Christianity is a religion of the heart; in our heart of hearts we love the Lord our God, and thereby seek to faithfully serve Him all of the days of our lives.

If we have any other motive, all of our good Christian works are as nothing before the Lord. We have, instead, a deceived heart. That is really the message we receive from James 1. You see, we can easily deceive others, and unfortunately we can easily deceive ourselves, but we can never deceive the Lord.

If we say we love the Lord, and yet we do not feel the necessity of living in obedience to His commandments, what does that say about us? None of us can live perfectly before the Lord, but all of us have the same advocate before God. We must continually go to Christ and cry out for His grace and mercy that He will help us to live faithfully before Him. That is the only way to avoid a deceived heart.

God is always faithful to those who love Him from their heart!

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Burden Bearers

1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.
(Galatians 6:1-5, New King James Version)

Burden Bearers

We have been discussing self deception in relationship to ourselves. But, as a Christian teen, what should we do when we discover a fellow believer who has succumbed to self deception? If these verses from Galatians 6 were truly practiced among Christian believers, we would certainly live in a different world!

How do we usually respond when we discover someone is being deceived? Unfortunately our first tendency is to spread the word! Often we even take pleasure in the fact that someone else is wrong; it makes us feel even better about the fact that we were not deceived. Secondly, how often do we quickly remove ourselves from those who live in error? It is as though intermingling with them might spread a plague on us!

Those are things we expect to see in the world, but not among fellow believers. Christ calls us out from the world to be different from the world. If Christ had taken that same attitude toward us, there would be no believers!

So, let us discuss the right reaction as given in Galatians 6.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

We are called to be spiritual restorers, showing forth the long suffering and patience displayed toward us by Christ. We deceive ourselves if we think we are too close to the Lord or too spiritual to ever be deceived. In reality, I do not think one Christian lives their entire life without entering into times of self deception.

You see, we cannot live the Christian life in our own power. Every time we try, things begin to go awry. Just as we must continue to go before the Lord asking for grace to keep close to Him, so should we be praying for our Christian friends that God would keep them close to His heart as well.

So let us, this day, bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, October 29, 2010

Feeding on Ashes!

18 They do not know nor understand;
For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see,
And their hearts, so that they cannot understand.
19 And no one considers in his heart,
Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say,

“ I have burned half of it in the fire,
Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals;
I have roasted meat and eaten it;
And shall I make the rest of it an abomination?
Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”
20 He feeds on ashes;
A deceived heart has turned him aside;
And he cannot deliver his soul,
Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
(Isaiah 44:18-20, New King James Version)

Feeding on Ashes!

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, tells a story in Isaiah 44, of a man who cuts down a tree, burns some of it to warm himself, and then uses some to carve an idol which he then falls down and worships. How does God see this? He sees this man as one feeding on ashes.

In other words, this is the height of self deception. It is not always easy for us in the 21st century to identify with this person; we do not find ourselves bowing before an carved idol. But, wait a minute, could there be more to this passage?

Yes, there is a bigger picture here; one which is a good thing to ponder, especially in our teens. What drives us? In our heart of hearts, what is at the root of all of the things we think, say, and do?

The Christian will most often quickly reply, "Well the Lord is at the center of everything I think, say, and do?" Is that really true? Are we just mouthing the words? The heart of self deception is that we are the ones who are being deceived about ourselves!

I once heard a man say, "When a couple marries, there are six people going down that aisle instead of just two. There is the man that he thinks he is, the man that she thinks he is, and the man who God knows he is. Likewise there is the woman she thinks she is, the woman the man thinks she is, and the woman God knows she is."

How do we find out who we really are? How do we learn to see ourselves as God sees us so that we are not self deceived? From our youth, by the grace of God, we must learn to see ourselves from a Biblical perspective. When all of the fluff and gloss of our lives are stripped away, what is really left? How do our lives compare to the commandments of God? What spiritual fruits are evident in our lives?

In the end, the question is, on what are we feeding? Are we feeding on the attitudes of this world, or are we feeding on God's Word? Or, as the prophet Isaiah expresses, are we just feeding on ashes?

He feeds on ashes;
A deceived heart has turned him aside;
And he cannot deliver his soul,
Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

As we work through these devotions on self deception, let us take time each day to consider the example given and say, "Is that me? Do I do that?" Let us pray, that by the grace of God, we are not just feeding on ashes. Let us truly ask from our hearts, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Like the Beasts!

16 Do not be afraid when one becomes rich,
When the glory of his house is increased;
17 For when he dies he shall carry nothing away;
His glory shall not descend after him.
18 Though while he lives he blesses himself
(For men will praise you when you do well for yourself),
19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
They shall never see light.
20 A man who is in honor, yet does not understand,
Is like the beasts that perish.
(Psalm 49:16-20, New King James Version)

Like the Beasts!

Self deception is a major problem in our world today. Look at Psalm 49:18:

Though while he lives he blesses himself
(For men will praise you when you do well for yourself).

Just look around you. Who is praised and honored the most in your school? Why does it seem to be true that those who are the most popular are often those who come from families who are well to do financially?

Here is a thought for you as a Christian teen. You may want to praise and thank God if you are one who is not in a wealthy family! Why would I say that?

It is often true that the rich think of themselves as being in a special class of people; in other words they see themselves as better than others. This can be a real problem for wealthy believers. Yet, is this true? The world seems to think so!

I do not mean to say that if you are a wealthy Christian teen you are evil. I am just saying that wealthy believers must overcome this temptation to think of themselves as better than others because they are wealthy. This is a very subtle form of self deception.

What does the Bible say? All men, no matter what their heritage or financial state may be, are equal before God. There is only one way to God, and that is through Christ. It is the same road that all believers must take, no matter where they live and no matter what age they may be.

It is interesting to note that David uses some pretty strong language to describe those who are guilty of self deception.

A man who is in honor, yet does not understand,
Is like the beasts that perish.

Are we like the beasts? Let us pray that God would grant to us a realistic view of ourselves, not as others see us, not even as we see ourselves, but rather, as God sees us.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Self Deception

1 An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked:
There is no fear of God before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes,
When he finds out his iniquity and when he hates.
3 The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
(Psalm 36:1-3, New King James Version)

Self Deception

After having several devotions on the topic of self control, we are going to go on to a topic that is especially relevant to all believers (actually all non-believers as well): self deception. This Psalm of David, Psalm 36, is declared, by David, to be an oracle, i.e. a message sent directly from God, addressed to the wicked--those who have no fear of God.

The first characteristic given to the wicked in Psalm 36 is self deception. The wicked one is flattered when he discovers his wickedness and hatred. Unfortunately, we live in a time when this tends to describe our modern day hero: one who is often proud of his own hatred.

As Christian teens, I am sure you face this attitude every single day at school. The teen years are years especially noted for overwhelming emotions. When one hates another, they do so with aggravated passion. When one loves another, they feel they cannot ever live again if they lose that person's love.

What are we to do? After all, Christians are not made of stone! Christian teens are real people, too! How do we face our emotions in a manner which is pleasing to God? This is exactly what we will be discussing in the next several devotions.

I will give you one hint to think about today. We will deal with these verses in another devotion, but for now, just ponder these words from 1 John 3.

18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
(1 John 3:18-23, New King James Version)

Our hearts may quickly deceive or condemn us, but let us remember that God is greater than our hearts.

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vacation

Just wanted to let you know that I am taking what I hope is just a short vacation. We have had three family emergencies in the last week and a half involving my daughter, my husband, and now my father-in-law. My daughter is doing well, my husband is not doing very well, and my father-in-law has another surgery tomorrow with not a very good prognosis.

In the mean time, please avail yourselves of the devotions in my archives, and also feel free to visit my web-site, Devotional Reflections from the Bible.

In Christ,
Linda


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Add Self Control

5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
(2 Peter 1:5-9, New King James Version)

Add Self Control

How do you, as a Christian teen, measure up? Is it enough just to have faith in Christ? Look at the list Peter gives us in 2 Peter 1. We are to add the following to our faith:

*Virtue
*Knowledge
*Self Control
*Perseverance
*Godliness
*Brotherly Kindness
*Love

That is quite a list, is it not? We have been looking at the topic of Self Control, and have discovered that it is a hard characteristic to make a part of our Christian lives. Now, add the other characteristics from this list, and we find that living for Christ is more than just having faith in Him.

How can we ever accomplish these things? The answer is, we cannot! No matter how hard we try, we will struggle with these things for the rest of our lives. Are we just to give up trying? No! These are goals we seek to achieve in our quest to live for the honor and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we grow and mature, we should see progress in every one of these areas.

According to 2 Peter 1, what are the blessings of adding virtue, knowledge, self control, perseverance, Godliness, brotherly kindness, and love to our Christian lives?

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then look at Peter's final warning: For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Let us roll up our sleeves, and seek God's grace to help us incorporate these fruits of the Holy Spirit into our daily lives and actions. Most importantly, let us pray that God will grant us a desire from our heart of hearts to become more and more like Christ!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Taming the Tongue!

1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
(James 3:1-12, New King James Version)

Taming the Tongue

I know that the Bible passage for today from James 3 is rather long, but please take the time to read it. I could never express in better words what James has written about self control in taming the tongue.

In considering the topic, self, and especially self control, it does not take long for us to get to the topic of Taming the Tongue. I cannot think of a more difficult requirement, not only for people of the world, but for Christians as well. How many times have we said something that we so wished we could take back. But, once the words are out of our mouths, the damage is done!

We should not be surprised by this in our own lives, but we must be patient with our fellow believers as well, and not be too quick to take offense at their words. James reminds us, For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man. In this life, the only perfect man is the Lord Jesus Christ!

8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

Does this describe us? This is not just a problem for you as a Christian teen, but for Christian adults as well! What, then, are we to do?

Who keeps us from sin? Who comes to our aid when we find we cannot possibly keep from the sins that so overwhelm us? You already know the answer! It is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us this day ask for help from our Savior in taming the tongue. Let us also remember, again, to be patient with our fellow believers and not take great offense at their words. Instead, let us pray for them as well, that they may be found taming the tongue!

God Bless You,
Linda