Drop Dead Gorgeous

We’ve all done it. We’ve stretched the truth to appear more dramatic. We’ve fabricated a story to cover exactly what happened. We’ve told a white lie in order to not offend someone. But the Bible employs different words for those actions: deception, falsehood, unwholesome talk, and finally, lying lips.

Let’s move to a narrative in Scripture where our heroine possibly thinks,

It’s just a little lie, a little deception, and we’ll keep some of the money for ourselves.

Her name, Sapphira, means sapphire—a beautiful and precious gemstone—Sapir is the Hebrew word from which it originates. Perhaps her eyes were even a lustrous blue, but the jewel was flawed. God struck down Sapphira with a premature death, and we remember Sapphira for her sin rather than her beauty.

Acts chapter 5, verses 1-11 relays the story of Sapphira, along with her husband Ananias, and their deception in the early church of Jerusalem. Desiring the flattering praise of men, they conspired to sell some property, keep a portion of the money for themselves, yet present before the church the lower sum of money pretending it was the complete amount they received from the sale and not just a portion. When confronted with their deception, the Lord first put an end to Ananias’ life. Later, even after Peter the Apostle offered her an out, Sapphira chose to continue the lie. Then God struck her down.

Whoa! You are most likely thinking that’s a terrible and harsh reaction from God. Why would He kill them? They were certainly entitled to keep some of the money from the sale, but they fabricated a story saying what they “put at the apostles’ feet” was the complete, whole amount of money. The integrity of the early church was at stake and God was not going to tolerate lying. Just as lying has led to the downfall of many Christian leaders today, the early church had too much at stake for this type of sin to take root. It could have choked out the work God was going to do with and in the first believers adversely influencing the future of the church and the spread of Christianity.

What does this historical account mean for us today? You and I can ask ourselves these questions:

  • What am I holding back? Have I fully surrendered my heart?
  • Do I have a desire to be noticed? Am I seeking the applause of man rather than heaven?
  • Am I allowing social media to tempt me to flaunt my good deeds? Am I seeking to “one-up” everyone else?
  • Am I stretching the truth? Am I even telling downright lies?
  • And finally, are these actions blocking or even stopping the work God wants to do in and through me? What effect does this have on His church?

Father God, Please forgive me of the sin of deception which has crept into my life. Please cleanse my heart of this evil and create a new heart. Please restore me to a life of integrity so your will and purposes can be accomplished in me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Proverbs 11:3 (NIV): “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

Proverbs 12:22 (NIV): “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”

John 8:44 (NIV): “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

© 2018 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

 

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He Doesn’t Remember

And there it is again. Lying in bed in the wee hours of the morning, and the shame from past sin looms large in your mind. You’ve prayed for forgiveness and feel confident God has indeed forgiven you. So why can’t we release it? Why do we continue to relive it?

God’s Word assures us in Isaiah 43:25 (NIV), “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Our Maker forgives and forgets our sins.

But, how can that be? How does an omniscient, all-knowing God forget our sins? I’m convinced God sees us as we are, not as we used to be. Our God is not some absent-minded professor type, but rather is wholly and perfectly true to His Word. His intentional design is to forgive and forget—He sees us as His righteousness through the blood of Jesus.

Scripture reinforces this truth, with Jeremiah 31:34b (NIV) stating, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 (NIV) repeats this promise from Jeremiah, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” And once more, in Hebrews 10:17 (NIV): “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

This repetition of the Jeremiah scripture shows the significance of this truth. A reality we can trust. Due to His great love for us, we can realize His compassions will not fail us, yet are new every morning (paraphrase of Lamentations 3:22-23). During those hours prior to daybreak, we can cast out those thoughts of past sins, rather than reel them in.

Father God, Your Word tells me you will forgive my sins when I confess them through Jesus Christ. I need your comfort in knowing that not only do you forgive me, but you also forget my sins. Please give me assurance to realize and claim this promise from your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 103:12, NIV: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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Before It’s Too Late

Gathered in the fireside room of the sizeable church, were a friendly and engaging group of people. As we assembled, our pastor lifted prayers before our Father, many in the group shared memories and funny stories, special music provided honor, and our pastor read scripture and extended an invitation to salvation in Jesus Christ. The occasion was the memorial service for my mother-in-law, but despite all the perfect details, something was still wrong. One major player was missing. One of my mother-in-law’s daughters and that daughter’s family did not attend. Now it was too late.

The rift began many years prior, the details of which are now inconsequential. There was never any forgiveness or reconciliation on either side, and the years only deepened the wound and the separation.

Right the wrongs, before it’s too late.

Scripture has much to say about the necessity of reconciliation and I believe the following three steps are instrumental in this process.

The Bible admonishes us to humble ourselves in 1 Peter 5:5b-6 (NIV): “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” According to Merriam-Webster.com, humbling yourself involves acting in a manner “not proud or haughty; and reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission.” In short, act like an adult—someone will need to. Often thinking our integrity is at stake, we waste countless words and efforts defending ourselves. Words we need to convey to our heavenly Father, not the other person involved.

Don’t let a lot of time pass before reconciling. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold,” is our instruction in Ephesians 4:26b-27 (NIV). If we do not get rid of all malice and anger causing the divisiveness, we hinder ourselves from maturing in our salvation (see 1 Peter 2:1-2). The devil will grab and sustain a foothold which will keep you stagnant in your Christian walk. Phew—what a stinky mess you’ve created—similar to a mucky, algae-covered pond with no drainage or fresh supply of water.

Ask forgiveness. I recognize there are tragic incidences of past abuse and wrongdoing which necessitate professional intervention and assistance and require a healing process, but I’m addressing the more prevalent challenges we face. It’s difficult letting go of past real or perceived hurts, but what purpose does it serve clinging to them? You’re not edifying the other person and it certainly isn’t building you up. John 13:34-35 (NIV): “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” When we move forward in love and forgiveness, we build up Christ’s body (the church) and others see Christ in us. The alternative is we lose our Christian witness, as the world and other Christians will be unable to see us as His disciples. We cannot harbor resentment, as it will continue to grow.

God forgave us everything when he sent his son, Jesus, to become sin and to die on the cross for our sins. Scripture instructs us to forgive others for offenses that pale in comparison. Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV) tells the parable of the unmerciful servant whose large debt was forgiven, yet he failed to forgive a smaller debt someone owed him. Verse 35 concludes with an angry master declaring the servant wicked, turning him over to be tortured, while exclaiming, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Take time for people and right the wrongs, as we never know what may happen. Years ago, parked in front of a vast warehouse-shopping site, taking time out of my busy schedule, I stopped everything, and pulled out my cell phone to call a dear friend. This was a solid relationship, but we had been missing each other lately, and I didn’t want her to think I’d been avoiding her. We had much to catch up on, and talked for quite a while. I thank Jesus for nudging me to take time for her. A week later she passed away unexpectedly. It could have been too late.

Father God, Forgive me for entertaining unforgiveness in my heart. It’s like poison, spreading and slowing your life in me. Enable me to humble myself, forgive, and reconcile my relationships before it’s too late. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Matthew 5:23-25a (NIV): “Therefore, 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. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court.”

Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV): “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

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

Hebrews 12:14-15 (NIV): “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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Red Tide

We’re currently vacationing on the Florida gulf coast and experienced first hand the effects of red tide. Red tide is a rapid accumulation or bloom of toxic red algae. Karenia brevis (for my scientific readership) builds ups quickly and becomes dense. sea-970483_640The effects of it are fish and plant starvation, not only from the toxins, but also from oxygen depletion. In humans, red tide is potentially harmful to our respiratory systems and produces eye irritation. As we walked the beach, the vast numbers of dead fish that had washed up on shore stunned us. How like sin. Sin permeates our very being, and is capable of choking the life out of us when allowed to continue unchecked. Thankfully, God rescues us and provides an answer to the dilemma of human sin through Jesus Christ. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7, NIV)

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