Self Deceived

It has been said. You can fool some of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool all of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the people all of the time.  But of all of the people, don’t fool yourself.

1Jo 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1Co 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

To see things as they really are, is truly an art.  Few there are that can properly appraise things objectively.  We see things through the eyes of various prejudices, preferences and presuppositions.  We set the standards of acceptance and tolerance.  Our perspective is often based on half truths or even untruths in some cases.  Because of this, we are often self deceived.

Failure to acknowledge the truth about ourselves is another way we deceive ourselves.  It does not matter if that failure is because of misinformation or because of stubborn refusal to accept the truth about ourselves, the outcome is the same.  Unless and until we come to acknowledge (not just admit) the truth about ourselves we will remain with only a partial view of reality.

Another way that we can be self deceived is when we have an inflated view of ourselves.  We call it “prideful”, “a superiority complex” or even “arrogant”.  Regardless of what we call it, it remains a false and incomplete assessment of the truth.  Based upon the above scripture, we must accept the truth that we have a sin problem and humble ourselves before the Lord so that He can make us more than we presently are.  It is vital that we have a proper assessment of our condition in order for us to properly respond to the world, ourselves and the Lord.

Preparing the Clay.

Isa 64:8 But now, O Jehovah, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Jer 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith Jehovah. Behold, as the clay in the potter’s hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel.

Ro 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why didst thou make me thus?  Ro 9:21 Or hath not the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?

I was on Youtube the other day watching a video on making primitive pottery and it made the point that it is not enough to just put clay on a pottery wheel and shape it into something useful like a bowl.  The video made the point that the clay must be “cleaned” from foreign matter such as rocks and sticks so that the object made doesn’t crack and ruin it.  The more critical it’s use, the more critical it is to “clean” the material.

We are compared to the clay and the potter is God (Eph 210)  Our purpose is for the Master’s use and must be prepared in like manner of the clay.  When we come to the Lord we are like the clay with foreign matter mixed with the clay.  We bring our misinformation, our false ideas, our weaknesses, and our rebellions as the raw product to be molded into vessels of service.  Prior to molding, comes the removal of the impurities.  So many times we seek to be used before this refining process is done and become frustrated because we do not see the necessity of refinement.  We could not stand the stresses required if we do not first go through the refinement process.  Nor would we be able to be the blessing that is needed.

Another interesting point of the video was that for some uses, highly refined clay is not needed.  A simple screening of impurities would suffice in making things like bricks or feeding trough but a highly refined process is required for vessels of more delicate use.  The highest level of refinement requires the removal of foreign matter as well as even the smallest grains of sand, then the clay must be worked to get even the particles of clay aligned and the removal of even small amounts of air.  This process requires a lot more work but once completed, the clay is fit for molding into the most delicate vessels of use and beauty.  We must yield to the Master’s hand, in His preparing us for service.  If we will not yield to His refinement, then we settle for being made into vessels of lesser value.  It is ultimately our choice as to how mold-able we are, and it is God’s choice as to what specific vessel we become withing that level of clay.

Deficiency in Prayer

Ro 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Today’s post is on praying.  If you have walked with the Lord for a while, you no doubt have had prayers block.  It is when you meet with the Lord in your prayer time and just do not know how to pray about some matter.  It may be because you lack knowledge of the real need.  It may be because the request conflicted with your spirit as to the real need.  It may be because you are being challenged by demonic obstruction or some other possibility.  We may sense the need for prayer but simply cannot identify in your spirit what you are sensing.

Whatever the cause, you need not be defeated in your prayer effort.  The  autobiography of praying Hyde was insightful for me as I struggled with this problem some years ago.  Praying Hyde was a young preacher that felt his calling was not to be the spokesperson but the prayer warrior behind the scenes.  It is said that while the preacher was preaching, he would be in a secluded place praying and sometimes he was heard just groaning in prayer.  This is in perfect harmony with the above verse.  If you cannot get it out verbally then send the prayer to God in the form of a groan and the Holy Spirit will translate the prayer accurately for you.  That is just one of His responsibilities.  Where ever you are deficient, He will make up the difference to complete the request.

Furthermore, the Lord knows our thoughts.  Consider  Job 21:27 Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me. Also,  Mt 9:4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?  Nothing is hid from God.  If you are struggling with a prayer, know that the Lord not only knows your heart but is also there to make you successful in prayer.  He is more desirous for your victory than you are.

I am encouraged by the story in Daniel 10 where he set his heart in prayer an prayed for three weeks before a messenger from God revealed that his prayer was heard from the first day but the answer was delayed three weeks in coming because it was hindered by satanic forces.  It is an awesome thing that we have been included in God’s plan to fight these satanic forces in prayer.  It is an unseen battle that we fight but we know that God is the victor and we are a part of that battle.  It is not in the physical utterance of sound but in the thoughts and intent of the heart.

Pain

My oldest daughter has a low pain tolerance.  Once, when she was in grade school, she was stabbed in the hand with a freshly sharpened pencil.  It became infected immediately and was causing her great pain.  When I tried to look at it, her fear of me increasing her pain level was so great that she couldn’t even allow me to even look.

I have know many people who have endured great pain and have even endured great pain myself.  Pain can cause great fear and is difficult to endure.  So why did the Lord include it as a part of life?  I submit the following reasons in answer to this question:

  1. Pain is a warning of danger. The Lord has provided amazing healing powers that are built in to our bodies, yet not all healing is automatic.  Sometimes your healing will require assistance beyond what is built into your body.  For example, if you break a bone it may need a splint, or cast, or even surgery and screws to hold the bone in place.  Failure to address the issue will cause extenuated limitations, even to the point of death.
  2. Pain demands attention.  It needs to grab your attention, which is does quite well.  It doesn’t matter what you are involved with, when pain announces itself it cannot be ignored.  It gives the situation an importance that it demands.
  3. Pain is a demonstration of love.  One of the things about love is that it does what is best, not what is easiest or the most enjoyable.  God’s love for us mandates that He provide the means to insist on our care for our bodies as it is the temple of God.  He wants the best for us and is more intent in our completion according to His standards, than He is on our own success rate.
  4. Pain is trans-formative in that it makes us mold-able.  It breaks down our resistance to change and cause us to become willing to move in a given direction.  People who endure great pain often say, I have no choice.  You become pliable like plastic that is forced into a mold.  It causes us to go where we would not go and become what we would not become
  5. Pain is a teacher. Consequence is a great instructor and guide. Often we hear with our ears but not our hearts.  Instructions have to find a lodging in our hearts in order for us to learn.  When we suffer the consequences of our actions we learn its importance.
  6. Pain helps the memory.  Because pain is so repulsive, we will take great care to avoid it when possible.
  7. Pain highlights the importance of the details.  Often we tend to major on the big things and to minimize the minor details.  Greatness is in the minutia, or the seemingly unimportant details.  The major things are obvious but the minutia is essential.

Wisdom speaks and says that it is good to make friends with pain.  You will not enjoy pain but you can be benefited by it.  Pain is for our good.

Word Study – Love

Love is a word that merits study in the Greek language, the language the New Testament was written in.  Note the following quote from Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

In NT times three words for love were use by the Greek speaking world.  The first is eros, referring to erotic or sexual love.  This word is no used in the NT or in the Septuagint.  It was commonly used in Greek literature of the time.

The word phileo (and its cognates) refers to tender affection, such as toward a friend or family member.  It is very common in the NT and extrabiblical literature.  It is used to express God the Father’s love for Jesus (John 5:20), God’s love for an individual believer (John 16:27), and of Jesus’ love for a disciple (John 20:2).  The word phileo is never used for a person’s love toward God.  In fact, the context of John 21:15-17 seems to suggest that Jesus desired a stronger love from Peter.

The word agapao (and its cognate agape) is rarely used in extrabiblical Greek.  It was used by believers to denote the special unconditional love of God and is used interchangeably with phileo to designate God the Father’s love for Jesus (John 3:35), Bod the Father’s love for an individual believer (John 14:21), and of Christ’s love for a disciple (John 13:23).

In English we have just the one word, love, and it can mean a lot of different things.  We have to look at the context and subject matter to discern its meaning and even then it may not be clear.

The NT is repleat  with multiple scriptures on love.  Biblical love has God as its object, true motivator, and source.  I Corinthians 13 (known as the love chapter) list the characteristics of love and concludes with the statement about the three everlasting qualities of the believer, faith, hope and love, and the greatest of the three is love.  It is the fruit of the spirit and the quality that exposes Christ in us to the world that we are Christians.

We are to love in four directions.  First, we are to love God. Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  Second, we are to love thy neighbor.  Mr 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  Thirdly, we are to love one another (the brethren).  Joh 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  Finally, we are to love our enemy.  Mt 5:44 But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Word Study – Perceive

Mt 13:14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:  

The word “perceive” is often misunderstood as meaning to learn or to mentally figure it out.  The word is  horao, pronounced  hor-ah’-o  and means to discern clearly.  It includes both the physical and spiritual applications.  To perceive is to see it as it is and all of the applications associated with it.  It sees through smoke screens and misrepresentations.  It is not fooled by empty promises, emotions or wishful thinking.

Perception is not done by seeing.  You have heard that seeing is believing but we all know that we see different things while observing the same thing.  Eyewitnesses do not always see the same things.  Beholding is not seeing everything.  It is also not seeing from the same perspective.  Furthermore the details we see are interpreted through the filter of our understanding and experiences.

After we have gathered our information of believed facts, we then piece them together into some rational meaning that we call understanding.  It may be logical but it may not be the truth.  Our conclusions are warped by our limitations, prejudices, inexperience and preferences.  In short, we are fallible and limited.

Perception does not come from the eyes but the heart and is given by the Lord.  It does not come by knowledge, understanding or effort.  You can’t manufacture it or produce it.  Once given it is used in harmony with the facts without distortion.  It is knowledge beyond the normal means of using your senses and mind.  It only comes as a revelation from God and in harmony with His will.  That is why it is not under our control.  We can know what we could never know or understand without it.

Perception supersedes spiritual blindness can be caused by our limitations, immaturity, erroneous training, misinformation, stubbornness, sin, or a hardened heart.  It confronts issues that prevent a right response to God and is one more of the road blocks to hell.  When rejected it compounds the problems and judgment.

Word Study on Subtil

Today’s word study is taken from Genesis 3:1 and is the word “subtil”.  The Hebrew word is aruwm and is pronounced ‘aw-room’.  It is usually translated as cunning but also includes the idea of crafty, prudent, and sly.  It is usually meant in a bad sense.

This is the word that is used to describe the serpent that spoke to the woman and the serpent is understood as a reference to Satan. Notice the strategy.  The ability to deceive increases in effectiveness as the separation from the source increases.    Satan did not attack Adam as he had a close relationship to God so he came to the woman who in turn, had a relationship to Adam.

The second level of attack was not to defy God, but only to put a question on the motive of God.  He took a partial truth and twisted it to imply that God was not looking to your best interest and was holding out on you.  By asking a question about God’s instructions he implied a lack of understanding on the part of Eve and introduced the idea that there was more to it than she knew.  When she responded, In her effort to show her knowledge, she added the part of even touching it and fell into Satan’s trap.  She was now guilty of adding to or changing God’s instructions.  Her insecurities opened her up to other trickery  At this point Satan challenged God’s follow through saying “ye shall not surely die”.  In other words, surely God won’t destroy His own creation.  To this he offered another partial truth about knowing good from evil . . . and ye shall be as gods.  And the when she saw. . . (the possible benefit) . . she took and ate and gave to her husband and he did eat.

Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive” Sir Walter Scott.  Because of the sin of Adam we now live in a world of twisted values, empty promises, partial truths and self justification.  We walk in this dark world until we take God at His word and follow Him.  Until then we practice deception like the Father of lies.  Out of the mouth proceeds the intent of the heart and as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.  Mt 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Fitting In

Its that time of year when the NFL draft is in full swing.  Teams are making decisions that will complete their team and hopefully propel them through the playoffs.  But what makes them the best fit for a team is not their skill level because all of them have skills, but how well they can play for the team, or how well they fit in.

When I was young we moved several times.  Each move involved cultural, social, economic and environmental changes.  It was always a tremendous challenge for me to figure out how I fit in to the new situation.  Relationships were already established and experiences were already anticipated.  I didn’t have any relationships and often my responses were not what was expected which made me a target.  I was behind right at the beginning so I had to overcome a lot to just start even with others.

Probably the most difficult place for many people to fit in is in church.  They do not have the church language down, they don’t know the history or even know how to maneuver thought the Bible.  They feel out of place like everyone is staring at them and they are quite uncomfortable.

I had one experience that I treasure to this day.  One of the students came up to me as I was walking down the hall and introduced himself and then welcomed me to the school.  It wasn’t a major thing in many respects but it meant the world to me.

Figuring out how to fit in to God’s plan for you in this world is undoubtedly the most important adjustment you will ever make in your life.  A lot of time it is described as your purpose in life.  Jesus underscored its importance in John 3 when He told Nicodemus that “you must be born again.”  God’s plan for you is not just for your comfort in this world but it is eternal in its scope and purpose.  Gods plan for you is first stated in Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  His plan is to complete you in the fashion of Himself and to dwell with you for eternity.  You were chosen before creation ever came to be because God looked down the corridors of time and saw you chose Christ.  To put it another way, God chose all those who choose Christ.

You fit in because you made the decision to be a part of His plan and now follow in obedience, placing your faith in Him and not in yourself.

Baby Steps 5

I was sharing the story of our experience with the pastor in Japan with our educational pastor and how gifting had opened up such a rich experience, when he suddenly said, You need to be teaching your book to our people, and then added this fall.  It was so sudden and unexpected yet somehow I knew that this also was from the Lord so I agreed and the time was set.

I had no basis on what to expect or how many would attend.  As the class began there were about 15 that showed up that first night and it grew several more during the classes on the book. Interest was high and several were asking questions and adding their insights.  One night after class there were a couple or three standing around and visiting when a lady spoke up and said, I think the Lord is asking me to translate your book into Spanish.  I was both stunned and surprised as I knew very little about her.  We began discussing the idea and I left her with the request that she pray about it and then we would talk some more.

Come to find out, she was quite sincere and told me what she did for her job was working with translations into Spanish.  She was a member of our church and her family was also members.  I was still a little shocked by this recent turn of events but I did sense the Lord’s fingerprints all over this so I suggested that she move along and send me chapter one when she finished it.  She then told me that because of a sick mother and other commitments that it would be a few months before she could begin but that she would proceed.

Since then she has finished the first chapter and sent it to me.  Then I didn’t hear from her for several months.  I didn’t have her phone number but I did have her email so I dropped here a note and said that I had been praying for her but did not get an answer.  A few more months went by and one day I met her and her husband in the hall at church.  She then shared that she had been going through an extreme situation with her mother as well as several other matters.  She assured me that it was coming to an end and that she fully intended to continue.  I ran into her a few weeks later and she said she had been working on it and now has chapter two almost completed and that she would send it to me shortly.  She also reported to me that she is dealing with other situations that is causing her a lot of delay but that she could use the prayers to help here through this current time.  Please lift her up to the Lord in your prayers as well.

 

Baby Steps 4

The third translator came quite surprisingly.  A man I have been working with for over a quarter century, was having a struggle in knowing how the Lord wanted to use him.  He had studied Russian for several years and had made a couple trips to Russia.  He even had worked as a translator in the Russian language but because of a limitation he had, he had never been able to really find the work he fit into.  He was constantly second guessing God’s plan for him and as a result, was never able to settle on any one thing that God had made certain.

Knowing his background as well as his heart, I found myself giving him the same advice over and over again. Somehow he thought that he might miss something so he tried to add credence to everything that came along.  The result was that nothing was ever truly settled.  It is just as the Bible says,  Jas 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

As I listened to him I found a common denominator which was that every conversation revolved around what he could do.  I then attempted to turn his attention  from himself to others.  It was not what he could do for God but how he could enrich the lives of others.  I also advised him that he needs to begin doing what was in his heart to do.  The thing he identified that was the greatest joy to do was Russian translation.  So then  I suggested to him that he simply begin to translate something for the practice to sharpen his skills again.  Lacking confidence, he wanted or needed something more specific so I suggested that he try my book, thinking that it would at least give him a start.  It seemed to be a mountain to him so I suggested that he begin with only one chapter.

Now he is growing more and more rapidly and moving at a faster pace continually.  He talks less of himself and more about others.  He has stated that the more he has translated, the easier it has become.  It is much easier to carry on a conversation with him now and his understanding grows every day.  One of the most outstanding  things that I see in him is his dedication to be precise and accurate in his work.  He is now finishing the third chapter and has every intention of finishing the book.  He has said several times that upon the completion of his work that it then needs to be examined by others for a more perfect translation.

Sometimes all of us needs a helping hand to lift us to a higher level of living.

to be continued . . .