Liar, Liar

“Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts. May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue.” Psalm 12:2-3 TNIV

Where has all the integrity gone? Lying has become a way of life for the majority of people, even Christians. The following are lies I’ve heard from self-proclaimed Christ-followers:

“I told this guy I was married so he’d leave me alone”.

“If you get pulled over by a cop, never, under any circumstances admit fault (even if you know you were wrong)!”

“Just say you’re busy so you won’t have to go to [an event].”

The Bible is clear about lying. It is sin. The excuses one conjures up to justify lies are evidence of a guilty conscience.

“It’s not hurting anyone.”

Wrong. Sin always, always bears consequences. Jesus said, “The good man brings up good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that all men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:35-37 (emphasis mine). Though a person may never know they’ve been lied to the most important One knows: God.

How can we expect to witness to our unbelieving friends and neighbors when our character stands in question?

As a Jesus-follower, I never want to find myself caught in a lie. The best way to not get caught in a lie is to not lie. I never want to be responsible for turning someone away from a saving faith in the Gospel because I had no integrity. A Christian who lies gives the unbelieving world another excuse to hold on to their godless existence. Let’s be salt and light, friends; after all, how can we call ourselves Jesus-followers when we make a habit of deceiving people?

As Christians we are called to a higher standard, even if taking that high road is more difficult or painful.

I recently read an “inspirational” article saying women want to be lied to by their spouses and it creates a better marriage by boosting the woman’s self-esteem. Apparently, when she asks if she looks fat she wants to hear “no” whether it’s true or not.  It’s likely our spouses are afraid to tell the truth because of reactions they receive. No wonder relationships have so much angst and heartache. Lying is so commonplace that hearing the truth hurts our feelings so we decide we want to be lied to and we think others want to be lied to.

If we want to bear witness to the life-transforming power of Jesus, we need to be people of integrity who refuse to tolerate even an inkling of intentional sin. May our prayer resonate with the Psalmist, “Because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.” Psalm 119:128 (emphasis mine)

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Effective

Effective

“I pray with all my heart.” Psalm 119:145 NLT

It’s impossible to talk about the word of God and not mention prayer. The Psalmist says that he will not only obey with all his heart, seek with all his heart, but also pray with all his heart. This, of course, implies that we could pray with less than our whole heart. What would that look like?

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men….But when you pray, go into your room and close the door and pray to your father, who is unseen.” Matthew 6:5-6

Jesus knew there were many people who loved to give lip service and be seen and admired by men. He strongly urged his disciples to avoid this kind of prayer at all costs. While there is nothing wrong with praying in public, we do it every Sunday in churches all over the world, there is something wrong with praying to impress others. It shows a division of heart. The intellect is involved with fancy words and long elegant speeches, but the rest of the heart (acting out the truth with the will, for example) is not on board or backing up the prayer. Jesus also warned us:

“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

Prayer is a form of worship, just as much as singing songs, Bible study, or tithing. We are told that no gift should be offered when we are not right with our brothers and sisters in Christ. How many times have we persisted in prayer, study, and singing while knowing we were bitter against someone else or they were bitter against us? We are admonished to do all we can to keep peace and unity in order for our offerings to be accepted. We cannot change how people feel about us, but we can make every effort to make things right. 12 step programs often refer to this as “making amends”. While the person we seek to restore fellowship with may not accept our offer, we must make the effort in sincerity of heart in order for God to be honored and our gift to be accepted.  Perhaps when we pray and God is silent, it is because He is waiting for us to act in obedience to his revealed will.

“The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them.” Psalm 34:17

The word righteous in this passage comes from the Hebrew root word meaning “cleanse”, “clear”, or “morally right”. Thus, the believer who is pure in heart or cleansed is the just believer whose prayers are heard. I don’t know about you, but I want my prayers to be heard! This is a powerful motivation for keeping my conscience clean before God, and others. What good does it do to spend an hour in elaborate prayer when my prayers are not being heard?

A few years ago my brother in law was diagnosed with leukemia. There was a sinking feeling that it wasn’t going to turn out well, and deep down in my spirit, I knew the outcome, though I certainly believed that God could bring healing if it was His will to do so. This was a life-changing event for me. I knew God could heal, I knew God had a plan, but I also knew I was called to pray over the situation in earnest. God brought me to James 5:16b over and over again.

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

The word righteous here is translated “holy”, “just”, or “innocent”. I realized that if I wanted God to hear me, I needed to have a clean heart before Him. Realizing that there are so many needs today for health, healing, freedom, truth, enlightenment, and wisdom (among many other things) was also a realization that praying for these things was a useless endeavor if my heart was not right with God. I was wasting my breath. I clearly remember this time of my life because God used it to motivate me to holiness, and being sold out to Him in living my faith.  Many times my prayers begin with confession as I come into the presence of a holy God and am reminded of my own ungodliness.

In order to have an undivided heart in prayer, we need to seek cleansing and purity before God. In order to be an effective prayer warrior, we need to ask God to convict us that we need a change of heart. God is the only One who can reveal to us faults we otherwise cannot see. I have experienced this truth time and again when asking God to cleanse my heart. There have been grievous sins committed on my part that I never even realized were sins until God opened my eyes to it! Once he did, I was horrified at my attitude! But unless I had asked him to search me and show me what needed fixing, I would have ignorantly gone on with an undivided heart probably wondering why my prayer life wasn’t as effective as it could be.

Just to be clear; I am not saying that the only way our prayers will be heard is if we are perfect. I am saying that God is clear in his word of what will hinder our prayers from being effective; willful disobedience, sin in ignorance, or a divided heart. I don’t want to be guilty of any of these things, and I pray you feel the same way! Let us obey, seek, and pray with a whole heart. Let us seek to be right before God in all we do, and keep a clear conscience in order to be the most effective prayer warriors that we can be!

Prayer

As I come into your presence, Lord, I ask that you reveal to me any secret sins I have hidden in my heart. I want to wholeheartedly serve you and I want to pray with a heart that is united to fear you. I want to be an effective prayer warrior; even more so I want to be right and have a clear conscience before you. Search me and cleanse me, give me a heart that understands your holiness and give me displeasure for the things that will divide my heart. Thank you for being merciful and loving to show me where I need cleansing!

Emotional

Emotional

“I obey your commands with all my heart.” Psalm 119:69 NLT

“I will put them into practice with all my heart.” Psalm 119:34 NLT

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

“I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 7:35

“All the believers were one in heart and mind.” Acts 4:32

How many times have you heard someone say, “I know it in my head, but I need to know it in my heart”? I know I have said it!  We are designed very uniquely. We have a heart, or an inner being that is multifaceted. Our spirit is made up of our mind, will, and emotions. We can practice the word of God with our minds (look at the Pharisees in the Gospels) and not have our will and emotions in the right place.

The Psalmist understood that the word needed to penetrate every aspect of his inner being, not just his head. The word needed to be molded through every aspect of his heart. His mind, will, and emotions needed to be bent towards God.  It’s quite easy, actually, to have our minds bent towards the things of God, and not our emotions. Our emotions are often the thing that trips us up. We read the word, and even know the word intellectually, but our emotions tell us we feel different. Much of the world’s philosophies involve living on emotions. “Do what feels right.” Just because it feels right doesn’t mean it is right! The only way we can do what is right, is to know what is right, and to know what is right is to know God’s word.

We must come to the word of God asking him to unite our hearts to his truth; that is, unite our minds, wills, and emotions towards his truth. This involves taking captive our will to do what is unnatural to the word of God, and our emotions that often feel what is not in line with the word of God, and demanding they obey the word of God as much as our minds.

There will be many times in our Christian walk that we don’t feel as if God loves or cares for us even though we know it in our minds; we won’t want to do what we know is right with our wills, yet we must ask God to order all of our heart to obey! We must practice walking in the truth of God with our intellect, our emotions, and our wills. I believe the Psalmist knew how difficult this was, and that is why he stressed the point so many times in this chapter. I can personally attest to making very poor decisions when allowing myself to be ruled by my emotions. I am a very sensitive person, so this is a very hard subject for me. Hard or not, it is the truth of God’s word. I must ask him to unite my heart in order to be effective, stay away from sinful attitudes, and stay in his will.

The only way to stay on the path of holy obedience is to have a wholeness of heart.

Prayer

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complicated, Lord! Teach me how to love and obey you with all of my heart, not just my intellect. I want to know who you are, and I want the truth of your word to penetrate my will that I may walk in your ways, and my emotions that I may be sensitive to your truth.

 

Opinions

“I consider all your precepts right.” Psalm 119:128 NIV

Opinions

What do you think about the word of God?

It matters.

What you think about the word of God will translate in to how you live the word of God.

In some areas of spirituality our opinions really don’t matter. For instance, what we think of God doesn’t change who he is or his character. However what we believe and how we view God and his word will always play a huge role in how we obey him.

The Psalmist recognized Gods word for what it was: right. If we truly believed the word was right, every last stroke of the pen blotted down, would we live differently? This question was recently posed in a Sunday morning class I attended and we all sat kind of stumped as we realized we really don’t live like we consider the word of God to be true.

 Silence and stares.

We often walk around thinking we know our stuff, we talk our talks, we walk our walks, and boy we have a lot of knowledge! But when it comes down to it, the unbelief, doubt, worry, anxiety, angst, and care speak for itself.

Our behavior shows what we really think of what God has told us.

“God…will supply all your needs…” Phil. 4:19

If we considered that true, would we ever worry about our physical needs, possessions, material wealth, or finances?

“He cares for you.” 1 Pet 5:7

If we recognized that truth, would we question the circumstances he has allowed in our lives?

“Your plans are too numerous for us to list.” Psa. 40:5

If we acknowledged that truth, would we wonder if God had a purpose for our lives?

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psa. 103:12

If we thought this to be true, would we agonize over the past?

When all is said and done, the Bible is full of God’s heart towards his creation-us. This book is a great gift to us, full of his love and truth, his great Gospel message and salvation along with life promised and peace eternal. There it is, all for the taking! We read, smile, nod in agreement, then we close the Book and walk through our day consumed with-our own understanding. We just don’t trust his word! We say we do, we want to, but our behavior gives us away!

I’ve lost my job, how will I pay my bills?

God could never use me for anything after what I have done with my life!

I don’t even know why I am here, I am useless.

My marriage is falling apart, I don’t know how to fix it, what will I do?

God must be punishing me for all the horrible things I’ve done, no wonder all these bad things keep happening.

We need to start recognizing these attitudes as doubt, unbelief, and distrust in the word and promises of God. Read his word, believe it, and act on it! Do as the Psalmist did, consider the word to be right!

Knowing the word of God is like knowing the answers for the test called life.

The answer is trust; the result is peace.

Prayer

As I lay my head to sleep this night, I thank you Jesus for your righteous word of truth. I thank you for your promises that give peace and life. I confess my doubt and unbelief. Let me sleep well knowing that I can trust your heart for me, trust your words for me, and trust your plan for me even if I don’t understand the moment by moment circumstances. Surround me with your peace as I sleep, and let my mind meditate on your truth as I rest in you.