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How to Get the Spring Back in Your Spiritual Step

Posted on March 25, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

A few nights ago I was watching the talking heads on a popular TV news/commentary program. As I listened to the ongoing debate, I marveled at the radically different viewpoints of the opposing sides. The more they talked the more they contradicted one another. The only real truth that I could extract from their political ramblings was that somebody was lying. The question was “who?”

We have all seen courtroom dramas where a defendant is ordered to take an oath to “tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” We expect criminals to make such a promise but we make no such demands of our elected officials. For example, the oath of office for a U.S. congressman is:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

Even though politicians do not take an oath that requires them to be truthful, I don’t think it is too much to expect of them.  But to be fair, I suppose that in all areas of life we have concerns about the veracity of the information and claims represented by others. We live in an age where integrity is fading and in which right and wrong are less clearly defined. Truth is defined by the intent of the moment and not by the reality of the heart. The politician, for example, views truth as that which is needed now to promote his or her agenda. That, of course, can change with the wind.

In today’s focus scripture we are told to “confess our sins.” God wants “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” He wants us to acknowledge our transgressions against Him. Today’s form of truth will not hold up under God’s scrutiny. We can only rightly confess based on His perfect and holy standard.

In 1 John 1:8 we are told, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” The mere thought or assertion that you have no sin is a lie. In fact, God has declared that you are a sinner (Ro 3:23) and when you refuse to confess your offences then you are, in effect, calling God a liar. Then in verse 10 John writes, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

In yesterday’s message, Check the Reading on Your Sin Meter, I made the point that if you are a Christian, you know when you have sinned and you know the sins you have committed. Part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to bring sin matters to our attention and to impress upon us the need for getting things right with God.

The strength of any relationship is trust and at the core of trust is truth. Trust cannot exist without truth. Jesus said that He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) God has been completely truthful with us and He expects no less than “the whole truth” from us. Nothing else will do.

Let’s face it. None of us likes to own up to our wrong doing. Such honest disclosures to others are humiliating and embarrassing. We also know that we run the risk of stirring up the wrath of the offended party. Kids keep things from their parents, parents keep things from their kids, spouses keep things from each other, and employees keep things from their bosses. Ultimately this behavior weakens relationships by eroding trust.

Just remember, you will never surprise or shock God by your confession. He already knows what you’ve been up to anyway. He has given you the key that opens the door to a closer relationship with Him. And just look at what happens when you are honest with God: “he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” He is faithful. He will forgive. He will purify you from all unrighteousness. Full disclosure of every sin against God results in a closer relationship with Him.

Sin hinders your walk with God and slows the flow of blessings into your life. Your prayers lose power and your confidence in God’s provision diminishes. You become spiritually deficient and the abundant life becomes the mediocre life. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Turn your spiritual life around by being open and honest with God. Confess your sins today and every day. Open your heart, bare your soul, and humble yourself before Him. Your relationship with God will grow stronger and you will experience new spiritual vitality in your walk with Him. It’s time to put a spring back in your spiritual step.

For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Walk by the Spirit

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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A Sign of Spiritual Maturity Is Knowing When to Shut Your Mouth

Posted on February 20, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

Proverbs 17:9

You probably haven’t heard these terms since you were a kid: blabbermouth, tattletale, snitch. Remember when you did something wrong there was always a playmate who would yell, “I’m gonna tell!” (Maybe you were that kid.)

Some of those children grow up to become rumormongers and gossipers. They delight in being the first to get the dirt on old so-and-so. Quite simply, these are individuals who have never learned or chosen to keep their mouth shut.

What causes this behavior? Why would anybody think it necessary to air the neighborhood’s dirty laundry? Most likely these individuals need to engage in this kind of behavior because it somehow boosts their self-esteem. By pointing to the mistakes and failures of others it makes them feel better about themselves. Sometimes such conduct is about venting or relieving frustration. Other times it has to do with retaliation, a way of getting back at someone. Unfortunately, for some people “talking trash” is just a form of entertainment. That’s how they get their kicks. They find enjoyment in running others down.

Today’s focus scripture features a proverb that teaches the importance of keeping your mouth shut. “He who covers over an offense promotes love.” One of the important principles about loving one another is that we must learn to withhold intimate information about those close to us. The close proximity of relationships with family and friends will provide us with volumes of information. But, since we are a people of love, we are to keep that information to ourselves.

Now, more than ever, this instruction has great relevance. It’s more than just Aunt Martha and Cousin Bobbie Sue running down Uncle Buck while sitting on the swing on the front porch. At least their dirty laundry could be confined to the porch. But today, we’re equipped with cell phones, texting, chat rooms, and social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.). In other words there are now more and faster ways for spreading dirt and running people down.

The writer of this proverb is warning us to be careful in what we share about others. Those juicy stories we love to tell on others can actually be very damaging. Again from Proverbs 17:9 we read, “Whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”  All too often relationships are damaged due to our inability to keep the lid on intimate information.

An important guideline in knowing what to tell and what not to tell is to simply consider whether the information builds up or tears down. Does it edify or destroy? If this information was about you would you want your friends sharing it?

In the Christian community there are many among us who love to spread information about others. Sharing prayer requests often turns to gossip sessions. God knows the details. Much of what we share, especially of a personal nature, is best withheld. If we are not careful caring and sharing can grow into meddling and gossiping. In such times we should seek never to share intimate details that would embarrass or humiliate. The “do unto others” principle definitely applies here.

Whatever you share with another will eventually make its rounds. Surely you’ve heard the old expression, “What goes around comes around.” Inevitably, the information you chose to share will eventually get back to the person you were talking about resulting in somebody getting hurt.

We all would do well to learn this lesson. One of the great signs of spiritual maturity is the acquired ability to keep your mouth shut. “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)  Bridling the tongue takes discipline.  Just like any other spiritual deficiency, if you have a problem in this area, then it’s going to take a lot of prayer and hard work to fix it.

Let us be more careful in the news that we share about others. If we truly love others then there are some things that are best left unsaid.

For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Resolve Conflict, Part 3

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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