As individuals and as a church, we are called to be salt and light in this world to those around us. This applies to our immediate families, friends, co-workers, fellow church members, neighborhood, city, and world. As long as we are here on this earth, we should be looking for opportunities to reach out to others and make a difference.
1. What has God been calling you to do?
2. What has been holding you back from embracing this calling?
Challenge: Many times we know deep down the next step God has in mind for us. We allow the unknown, fear, uncertainty, and lack of trust to hold us back from God’s calling. Be in prayer that He will give you strength and trust to step out in faith and leave fear behind.
Actions speak louder than words, a phrase that is thrown around often, but is very true. As we have been looking at gossip, being honest, criticizing, and complaining; remember actions are powerful as well. We can talk about being followers of God, say we are good people who do good things, but people see our actions. Raising kids is a great example of this. We can teach them to do the right things, but if they see us doing wrong, they are going to think it’s OK, regardless of what we say. We can speak volumes without saying a word!
1. Think about the people around you on a daily basis. Who could be watching you?
2. What are they seeing?
Challenge: Seeing yourself through others’ eyes can sometimes be a very uncomfortable view. If we honestly consider this, we often don't like what we see. There is good news, however. You can change who others see today, just by making small changes in your daily life. People around you will notice the difference!
I don't know about you, but many days I feel like anything but God's masterpiece. Many times we get so consumed with everyday life, focusing on the next thing on the schedule, that we forget basic truths. You were created by God so that you can do the good things He planned for you long ago. Be seeking out what God has for you each day, not just what your calendar tells you must be done.
1. Take a look at your calendar, is it filled with what God created you for or just “stuff?”
2. What steps do you need to take to realign your schedule and your life to match His plan, not the world's plan, for your life?
Challenge: It can be extremely difficult to change your lifestyle and schedule once it is filled with commitments. It can take time to make changes. Take an honest look at how you spend your time and ask God to help you make those tough choices.
We all remember, when we were in high school (or possibly you are currently there) the talk about what this person did or said. I am reminded this happens in all stages of life, and it is so easy to get caught up in. At work we can fall into this trap talking about the boss or other co-workers. It goes on in all types of friend groups, and can even creep into the church if we are not careful. It is so important, if you have an issue or concern with someone, that you go directly to them in love and with positive motives. Don’t make it a topic of conversation with others.
1. Is there anyone God has put on your heart while you read this whom you need to meet with? If so, who?
2. How can you approach them and have a private discussion that will be beneficial and helpful to them?
Challenge: If you do decide to have a private conversation with someone about an issue or concern, I challenge you to put yourself in their shoes first. Ask yourself how you would want to be approached in the same situation if the roles were reversed.
When I think about the words that we say and how they affect others, I think about the phrase from when I was young. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We want that to be true, we like to think the words that people say don't hurt or even affect us, but we know they do. We can put on a tough exterior, but inside words can cut like a knife and can inflict more damage than physical pain. I tend to forget this from time to time, and catch myself saying things that I never thought I would. Even for a mature Christian, a tongue unchecked can get out of hand quickly.
1. When was the last time you caught yourself saying something that you regretted later?
2. What pain or discomfort did it cause those around you?
Challenge: Pray that God would help you keep your tongue in check. Is there someone you need to apologize to or make things right with? Do it today and begin to repair the hurt you may have caused.
We learned yesterday about the first step in the solution of being cleansed of our lying lips by the power of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sin found by faith placed in Jesus Christ. Now that we have confessed that known sin to God in agreement with Him of the seriousness of the offense, we should pursue the next step in the process by confessing our sin to a trusted friend or advisor. Confessing our sins to each other accomplishes a few different things. (1) If we have sinned against an individual, we must ask him or her to forgive us, (2) If our sin has affected the Church, we must confess it publicly, (3) If we need loving support as we struggle with a sin (such as lying), we confess that sin to those that are able to lend support, and (4) If after confessing a private sin to God, we still don’t feel His forgiveness, we may confess that sin to another believer and hear them assure us of God’s pardon based on His Word. What a merciful God we serve!
1. What is your next step of surrender today?
2. Are there any sins you need to confess to another? Is there anything from your life that you need to remove?
Challenge: Start a written list of the things you want to confess to the Lord. Follow up that with a list of things you will pray for strength to remove and remove them. Take those things on your list and now confess them to a trusted friend/advisor. Watch as God works.
If God has forgiven us for our sins because of Christ’s death and our putting our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, why must we confess our sins? In admission of our sin and receiving Christ’s cleansing, we are (1) agreeing with God that our sin truly is sin and that we are willing to turn from it, (2) ensuring that we don’t conceal our sin from Him and ultimately from ourselves, and (3) recognizing our tendency to sin and relying on His power to overcome it. Moreover, our obedience to His commands provides external, visible proof and assurance that we have indeed been regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit. Have you received forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross? If not, what is preventing you from doing it today?
1. How do you view confession and repentance of known sin? Do you see it as necessary? Why or why not?
2. In what ways have you felt God’s cleansing as you entered into a time of confession and repentance? Do you sense your relationship with God being restored through this process?
Challenge: Take some time this week and genuinely confess and forsake your sin. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you resist the temptation to lie or present half-truths. Watch as He works!
God’s standard for your life is not as easy as avoiding the “major sins.” You will never secure a relationship with God by simply living a good life. His ninth commandment alone is sufficient to keep all of humanity forever separated from Him. If you have ever told a lie, you have fallen short of God’s standard of holiness (Romans 3:23). Having this knowledge, it is amazing that we, as Christians, would continue to lie. Furthermore, we don’t only lie, but we dismiss it as if it was not a sin at all. Why do we approach a sin that is worthy of sending us eternally to Hell with so little thought, confession, and repentance? Our eternal security with God does not exclude us from the temporal consequences of our sins. We should not assume that God takes lying more lightly because we accepted His Son’s death as righteousness counted towards us. Thank goodness we can look to the second part of this verse “those who act faithfully are His delight.”
1. In what ways have you minimized lying in the craziness of everyday life? Do you really see commandment #9 as important as the rest?
2. How have you experienced consequences due to someone lying to you or about you? How have your lies caused difficulty for others around you?
Challenge: Commit to being a delight before the Lord today. Ask Him to convict your of your sinful thoughts before they manifest themselves in the form of lying lips.
Remember the rush of getting away with a little white lie as a child? Maybe you said you cleaned your room when really you stashed the entire mess under your bed. Maybe you said you ate your vegetables as you slid that hunk of broccoli to the family dog under the table. The lies we told as kids seem insignificant now. But left uncorrected, lying is a sinful habit we can carry into adulthood. Lying takes many forms in Proverbs 13 — speaking carelessly and saying things we don't mean, pretending to be someone we’re not, saying we don't need help when we do, conning others to make money, saying one thing and doing another. The wise and godly don’t experience the rush of getting away with a lie, but they also don’t experience the consequences of getting caught in one. Which do you prefer?
1. Think back to the last time you lied about something. What were you hiding? Was the lie worth compromising your integrity?
2. How is insecurity causing you to pretend to be someone you’re not? Ask God to give you confidence and to believe that you are worthy of being who you are.
Challenge: Those who surround themselves with wise people grow wiser. Who are the wise people in your life who are helping you become wiser?
Lying has become a pervasive problem. Have you fallen into the habit? I know I have been caught in this from time to time. However, many believers don’t look on lying as the grievous sin that it most certainly is. Why is that? Many people would never dream of attending a dirty movie, but they will lie at the drop of a hat. The “me first” mentality seems to have won the day and places little value on honesty and personal integrity. Truth is sacrificed on the altar of self-advancement. There is only one way to break the bondage of a lie and that is with the truth. See today’s challenge for some thoughts on how to do that.
1. Which life have you created for yourself? One of lying and deceit or one of truth and integrity?
2. In relationship to question #1 above, how are you able to tell the difference in your life and relationships?
Challenge: Seek to live with integrity and honesty and you will find a new freedom for living. How? The truth is found in Jesus Christ. Find Him and find the Truth, the Power, and the Strength to become a person of integrity.
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
Receive this devotional in your inbox every Monday - Friday.