December 6, 2018

Green with Envy
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30, NIV).

Friend to Friend
We all know what it is like to be green with envy. We all struggle with jealousy at some point in life. Let’s be honest. How often do we look at another person and covet their success? How many of us are not content to serve God with the gifts He has given us while whining about the fact that others have the gifts we want. We convince ourselves that our longing for a bigger platform is to further the Kingdom when, in reality, that longing is for self-promotion, fame and recognition. Ugly, isn’t it? Jealousy is one of the most dangerous emotions because it is one of the most destructive.

“Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but who can survive the destructiveness of jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4).

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:13-16).

James asks, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” The word “wise” describes one with moral insight and/or skill in the practical issues of life. The word “understanding” means “intellectual perception.” James asks these pointed questions and then calls for a spiritual “Show and Tell” when he says, “Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

James is sending us a strong message that wisdom and understanding are not measured by degrees, but by deeds. It is not how much we know that counts, but how much we are living that matters. We can talk a great spiritual game, but if we have a jealous heart, if we harbor envy, allowing it to creep into our lives, and taking up residence, then we have no wisdom and are living a lie.

James defines jealousy as “bitter envy and selfish ambition” (James 3:14). “Bitter envy” means, “a nasty jealousy” while “selfish ambition” refers to “a contentious selfishness” or “a hostile ego.” “Selfish ambition” can also be translated as a “party spirit,” and was a term used by the Greeks to describe a dishonest politician who works the crowd, using every opportunity and every method to draw attention to himself in an effort to win votes. James is painting an ugly picture of jealousy.

“You are still not spiritual. You have jealousy and arguing among you. This shows that you are not spiritual. You are acting like people of the world” (1 Corinthians 3:3).

People of the world secretly cheer when their enemy fails.  
People of the world are driven by ego.
People of the world are suspicious of everyone, trusting no one.
People of the world are taught by envy and jealousy to take care of self above all others. 

John and Dave were hiking when they spotted a mountain lion staring at them. John froze in his tracks, but Dave sat down on a log, tore off his hiking boots, pulled a pair of running shoes from his backpack and quickly put them on. John looked at him in amazement! “You can’t outrun a mountain lion!” he said. Dave shrugged and responded, “I don’t have to! I just have to outrun you!” I am so glad that God’s people are not like that, aren’t you? Actually, Paul is writing to God’s people, warning them that jealousy is deadly to the unity of the church. Jealousy springs from a heart of insecurity and bubbles out in self-centered actions, arrogant words and divisive attitudes. We must realize that jealousy and envy are in direct opposition to the very nature of Jesus Christ and as a result, produce ungodly results in our lives.  

Jealousy is a spiritual cancer that will invade and destroy whatever it touches. Everything we do from the motive of jealousy is empty and does not count in Kingdom work. We need to brutally and honestly examine every heart motive and choose against anything or anyone who promotes jealousy and envy. 

Let’s Pray
Lord, forgive me for allowing jealousy to be present in my life. I confess it to You as sin. Please strengthen me and help me guard my heart against any kind of envy. I love You, Father. You are all I need. Teach me to walk in Your ways and fill my heart with Your love and kindness.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Are any of the following characteristics or behaviors present in your life? If so, can you identify its source? What steps do you need to take in order to find victory in each area? Record your answers in your journal.

  • Pride ______________________________________________________________________
  • Denial ______________________________________________________________________
  • Chaos ______________________________________________________________________
  • Sinful habits_________________________________________________________________

 

More from the Girlfriends 
At the very heart of greed and jealousy is a lack of contentment. Need help? Check out Mary’s MP3 download, The Secret of Contentment. In this message, Mary explores the life of Paul who wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content.”

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary’s website and connect with Mary through E-mailTwitterInstagramShopify, or on Facebook.

Seeking God?
  GirlfriendsInGod.com

 

Lysa TerKeurst December 6, 2018

The Slippery Slope
LYSA TERKEURST

“… to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God …” Acts 26:18a (NIV)

Some of the most dangerous lies we listen to are the ones we tell ourselves.

If you’ve ever felt yourself being pulled into a forbidden but exciting situation, you may know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the script you can end up turning to when you sense red flags, but you want to convince yourself you can handle it. “I’m just having a little fun. This won’t ever amount to anything. It just gives me a little something to look forward to.”

You brush off conviction.

You keep secrets from those people you know would call you out.

You lie.

You pretend.

And you have no idea what a voracious appetite sin has. Sin may seem like no big deal at first. But as apologist Ravi Zacharias says, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

Yes, sin unleashes consequences that will rob us of our peace, diminish our integrity and cause us pain that’s never worth it.

That’s exactly what happened to a friend of mine when a nice guy at work started paying attention to her. Her marriage was hard, and she was tired of trying so much. She found herself putting extra effort into getting dressed in the morning and being more than willing to work late.

She felt a spark in her heart every time he came near. Soon, they were talking in secret. Texting in secret. Meeting in secret. And down the slippery slope she went.

The slippery slope has one major tell-tale sign — things are done in secret.

The minute we start hiding things from those who love us, doing things in a sneaky way, lying or telling half-truths, and figuring out ways to cover up evidence of our activities — we’re on the slippery slope. And we’re headed downhill fast.

Satan is the master of darkness. As long as he can keep us operating in our dark secrets, we are deceived. In The Message version of Acts 26:17-18, we are reminded:

“I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.”

Oh sweet friend, we need to see the difference between dark and light and choose light. We need to bring our choices out into the light of Jesus so He can expose the truth. Only then can we truly discern the difference between being led by Jesus or deceived by Satan.

Doing things in secret can be an indication we are being led by Satan. That’s a strong statement but one worth really considering.

Satan keeps dangers off our radar screen and blinds us to the harsh realities coming our way. My friend was blinded. And when she finally woke up to the deception, the devastation horrified her.

If you’re keeping secrets today, bring them out into the light:

• Find a trusted Christian friend and ask them to help you hold your choices up to the truth.

• Get honest with people who love you.

• Build accountability measures in your life.

• Ask Jesus for help, forgiveness, and a clear understanding of how to hit the brakes and throw things in reverse. Let His truth speak louder than the feelings that are begging you to keep things hidden. Like the end of verse 18 says, “begin real living by believing in me.”

The path to real living — the living that will sustain you and lead you to a true discovery of real love, real provision and real satisfaction — is found only by following Jesus.Dear Lord, protect me from the darkness of Satan today. Help me bring my choices into Your light, because only You can expose the truth. You are the only way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Train yourself to recognize the three strategies of the enemy, so you can stand strong and persevere through unsettling relationships and uncertain outcomes, with Lysa TerKeurst’s newest book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way. You can order your copy here today.

CONNECT:
You can connect with Lysa on a daily basis on her Facebook and Instagram.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Look back at Lysa’s list of ways to bring secrets out into the light. Are there any of these measures that you keep as a continual part of your life to help you resist temptation? Is there one you need to start doing? Join the conversation here.

© 2018 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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NIV DISCOVER GOD’S HEART DEVOTIONAL BIBLE – THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2018

1 Samuel 13–15

God’s Story

Saul’s next test as king comes when the Israelites and Philistines square off for battle, and it’s scarily obvious that Israel is underarmed and outnumbered. Saul’s soldiers start defecting and disappearing.

Anxious because of his dwindling forces, King Saul breaks God’s law and offers the burnt offering before battle—instead of following Samuel’s instructions and waiting for him, a priest, to do it. The king has sinned. Gravely. When Samuel arrives, he’s appalled. Because of Saul’s act of disrespect for God, God will remove him as king.

Trusting that God can defeat an entire army with one man, Jonathan and his armor-bearer approach the Philistine camp in broad daylight and boldly kill 20 Philistines. The Lord sends the Philistine army into panic. Israel’s enemies fall apart, and Saul leads Israel to victory.

God then gives Saul his next battle plan: Completely destroy the Amalekites—the tribe who attacked his vulnerable people as they were leaving Egypt, fresh out of slavery. Saul leads the army to victory, but doesn’t kill the Amalekite king or all of the livestock. In his disobedience, Saul has rejected God’s authority. God rejects him as king.

The King’s Heart

The well-armed Philistine army wasn’t a threat to God. The Creator and Sustainer could stop their heartbeats at any moment with just a thought in his mind. Victory over the enemies wasn’t what God was after—he could accomplish that in a millisecond. He wanted a king who knew and trusted his heart.

Saul was scrambling for a leg up on his enemies—even disobeying God to get it. All while the One who determines life looked on. “Rebellion is like the sin of divination,” Samuel told Saul (1 Samuel 15:23). It’s turning toward a power other than God to accomplish something. “Arrogance [is] like the evil of idolatry,” God’s prophet continued. It’s valuing our own strength more than we value God’s. Rebellion and arrogance say, “God, I don’t think you’re loving and that you want to help me,” or “I don’t believe you’re able to help me.” Yet God is both—he is loving and he is able.

“Do you know me? Will you trust me?” God was asking Saul.

“No,” Saul’s rebellious, arrogant actions resounded.

“I regret that I have made Saul king,” God grieved (1 Samuel 15:11).

Insight

That Saul killed all the people of Agag (1 Samuel 15:8) must have meant that the Israelites killed all the Amalekites they encountered. Some Amalekites survived (see 1 Samuel 27:830:1). Even though Samuel killed Agag, the vile Haman is an Agagite (see Esther 3:1). Centuries later Haman is still looking for revenge—he attempts to destroy the Jews.

Copyright © 2014 by Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved.

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NIV Daily Devotional

Up on the Rooftop (Proverbs 21:9)

This verse could just as easily say it’s better to live on the roof than to share a house with a quarrelsome husband, teen or child. The intended spirit is this: If anyone in the house is inclined toward quarreling, the whole house suffers.

What do you do with a quarrelsome child? There are no perfect answers, but here are a few suggestions. Make sure you have consequences for squabbling children. Take something away they really enjoy. Initially that may cause more arguments, but hopefully it will teach them a lesson. Give them more responsibility. When children aren’t busy, they are prone to think of themselves more. When that happens, they become quarrelsome. So don’t let their minds be idle. After trying these suggestions, if the situation doesn’t improve, seek counseling or pastoral advice. You might be too close to the situation to see it clearly. Listen to godly advice, and hopefully it will lead you to enjoying more of your home rather than just the corner of the roof.

Parenting Principle

Choose peace over quarreling and live in the house, not on the corner of the roof.

Points to Ponder

  • What might bring on a quarrelsome attitude for you?
  • When do your children seem to quarrel more?
  • Besides the ideas above, how can you help your family in this area?

Taken from Once a Day Nurturing Great Kids

Bible Gateway

Jesus Stands Before Pilate

Matthew 27:11–23 “Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!’” (v. 22).

Our study of Matthew’s gospel has highlighted the opposition of Israel’s leaders to Jesus (Matt. 2:16–18; 12:22–32; 16:1–4; 22:15–46). This hatred is seen most clearly in Christ’s trial and execution. Having had Jesus betrayed into their hands, the high priest Caiaphas and the other religious authorities have falsely convicted our Lord of blasphemy, a capital crime according to the Mosaic code (Matt. 26:47–68; 27:1; see Lev. 24:16). Since Rome does not allow the Jewish leaders to enforce the death penalty, Jesus is taken before Pontius Pilate (Matt. 27:2), and we find ourselves in his court today as we return to Matthew.

To understand why Pilate finally condemns Jesus to death, we need to know something of Pilate’s character and his relationship with Israel. From his appointment as governor of Judea (circa AD 26), Pontius Pilate has shown little but contempt for his Jewish subjects, raiding the temple treasury to finance the construction of an aqueduct and even murdering some Galileans while they offered sacrifices (Luke 13:1). As such, Pilate will not be moved to kill Jesus simply because Jesus violates the Sanhedrin’s religious sensibilities. In fact, Pilate’s hatred for the Sanhedrin is well-known.

Therefore, the Jewish leaders do not charge Jesus with blasphemy before Pilate’s bench; rather, they accuse our Lord of claiming to be “King of the Jews” (Matt. 27:11–12). In riot-prone Judea, this is the best way to convince Pilate that Jesus must die, for the Roman authorities will do nearly anything to prevent uprisings against the Empire. Pilate, however, is not convinced that Jesus is guilty. After all, he does not immediately deliver Jesus to be crucified, but offers to the gathered crowd the chance to have Him released (vv. 15–17). Most commentators believe that Pilate knows of the popular acclaim surrounding this Jesus and thinks that the crowd will call for His release. In offering Jesus to the crowd, the governor is attempting to set the populace against the Sanhedrin.

Ever the politician, Pilate will not do the right thing and acquit our Redeemer based on the flimsy case against Him. To preserve the peace he will put the innocent to death (v. 26), becoming an infamous character in world history.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Our God is a God of justice (Deut. 10:18) and is angered any time justice is not done. We likewise must be moved to work for justice, and being reminded that Rome did not deal with Jesus righteously should make us hate injustice all the more. We should be doing all we can to make sure justice is done, and some ways we can do so in our communities is by voting for honest judges and politicians and supporting ministries that work to extend justice to the unborn.

For further study:

Proverbs 21:3

The Bible in a year:

Hosea 11–14

Bible Gateway

View today’s reading at Bible Gateway

1 John 5

Faith in the Incarnate Son of God

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Concluding Affirmations

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.