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Archive for September 2013

Speak With Integrity


Matthew 5:33-37

“I swear to God” – I would venture to say that most of us have spoken those words at some point in our lives. We speak these words or words like these to give credibility to our story and to convince another that what we are saying is the absolute truth. But, Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:33-37 tells us that all we need to say is simply yes or no.

You see men, our character should be of such integrity that when we speak there should be no doubt that we are speaking the truth. Our words should be simple, straight forward, and honest. Do not be evasive with your speech, but speak plainly and leave no doubt of what you really mean. Refrain from using God’s name to make yourself sound good. Be a man whose reputation for honesty speaks for itself so that others will believe your simple yes or no.

This Week’s Challenge:
Are you known as a man of his word or do you have a reputation for exaggeration or lying? This week, acknowledge an area of your life where you lied, spoke a half-truth, or even omitted the truth to a person and come clean to the person.

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Lust Much?


“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).

With these words, Jesus is challenging the hearts of his followers. You see, many of us read these words and profess to agree with them, but do not obey them. Instead, we let lust permeate our hearts and our thoughts, causing us to live in a high-light reel of fantasy, which has the potential to cause us to fall into illicit behavior. It was lust that drove Herod Antipas to murder a prophet (Matt. 14:6-12) and it was lust that led David to have an affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11).

So then, what is lust? In his commentary on Matthew’s gospel, Greg Keener defines lust as the deliberate harboring of desire for an illicit relationship. Lust is in opposition to love; it dehumanizes another person into an object of passion. Love values, respects and seeks to serve others, but lust is a selfish passion that leads us to commit adultery in our hearts. Lust has the power to persuade us that we will be happier if we embrace it, and it may be true that in the short run things may be more pleasant. But, the affects of lust are harmful to you and to your spouse, because, as long as you lust for another, you will not be the same or feel the same with your spouse. It degrades your partner and cuts right across the self-esteem and worth of them.

Lust gets its power by lying to us in order to deceive us. It preys upon our ignorance of God’s promises and claims to offer pleasures beyond what we are currently experiencing in our lives. By believing in these lies and superficial pleasure, lust has the power to destroy the things that matter the most to us. How do we prevent this from happening? How do we fight lust? John Piper writes, “The fight of faith against lust is the fight to stay satisfied with God.” The psalmist writes, “you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). So, unsheathe the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word (Ephesians 6:17), and find joy and satisfaction in the promises of God.

This Week’s Challenge:
When left unchecked, sinful desires are just as damaging to our righteousness as sinful actions. What sinful (lustful) desires are affecting your righteousness? This week, find one promise from God’s Word that can replace the superficial joy that lust brings. Some examples are: Philippians 4:8-9; Romans 8:6; Psalm 84:11; Matthew 5:6. What promise from God’s Word strengthens you?

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Righteousness & Anger


Last week’s ManUp focused on the righteousness that we, as followers of Christ, are supposed to have. It is the kind of righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law (Matt. 5:20) and Matthew 5:21-48 provides concrete examples of the greater righteousness that we are supposed to have. For the next six weeks, we will be looking at examples of the greater righteousness that we, as followers of Christ, and we, as men, are supposed to have.

The focus for this week’s ManUp is on our righteous behavior and anger. The law says you shall not murder. You see, the Pharisees thought they were righteous because they did not actually kill anyone. Jesus says, “but I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment” (Matt. 5:22). Jesus brings the law to the heart level and calls anger a sin. And, by saying this, Jesus is letting us know the standard of righteousness we need to have to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is an internal righteousness that touches the motive, condition, and intention of the heart. Just because we may not act upon an angry or wicked thought doesn’t mean we can stomach them, because even anger or angry speech can lead to judgment.

Now, some of you may have the same question I have regarding anger, “Is there a righteous anger?” The old King James Version includes the words “without a cause” in Matthew 5:22. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul writes, “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Additionally, Jesus displayed righteous anger when he cleared the Temple (John 2:15). By these examples we can see there is a righteous anger. However, it must be expressed productively, with humility and love, and never in a way that is harmful to others.

This Week’s Challenge:
Anger has the ability to cause conflict between ourselves and others. When it comes to making things right with others who comes to mind? What steps can you take this week to reconcile with that person?

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

How Deep is your Righteousness?


In a recent ManUp devotional, I wrote about having a thirst and a hunger for righteousness. Being a righteous man means to be a man of high integrity and strong character. It means living an upright lifestyle and having the right behavior before God. So, self assessment time; how is this pursuit of righteousness going for you? Is your righteousness resting on the surface for all to see or does it go deeper than that? Does it reside in the depths of your heart and soul? You see men, it is important that we assess ourselves in regards to our righteousness because Jesus calls us to a new righteousness, one that “surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law” (Matthew 5:20).

The law was a standard of righteousness that the Pharisees and Scribes pursued. When they gave a contribution, they wanted trumpets to sound. When they prayed, they wanted people to see them. When they fasted, they made sure it was obvious to others. You see, theirs was a righteousness to bolster their own self-esteem by getting the praise of man. It was a righteousness that was seen by others and did not touch the heart of the person. Jesus was not satisfied with that kind of righteousness displayed by the Scribes and Pharisees and he is not satisfied with that kind of righteousness within us.

Men, we are called to a higher righteousness, one that surpasses those who are supposedly the most pious. Our righteousness is one that affects the whole of our lives, not just in public, but also in private. It is a righteousness that forgives and does not hold a grudge. It is a righteousness that does great things for the lost, abandoned, and hurting people that nobody wants anything to do with and keeps quiet about doing it. It is a righteousness that brings glory to God and seeks the honor of Him, not men. It is a kingdom righteousness that works from the inside out transforming men and producing changed hearts and does, in fact, surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the law.

This Week’s Challenge:
Is your righteousness on display for the world to see? What steps can you take this week to obtain a righteousness that surpasses that of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees?

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Salt Always Preserves & Light Always Shines


In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus gives two word pictures to tell us who we are as His followers: we are to be salt and light.

First, we are to be “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Salt has many uses: healing, cleaning, melting, washing and seasoning. But, in the ancient near east, salt was primarily used as a preservative. A preservative is a substance that is added to food to prevent spoilage or decomposition. You see, without a preservative things decay, things rot and things reek. So, what Jesus is saying to each of us as His followers, “you are a preservative.” You are a preservative for your family, for your church, for your neighborhood. You are a preservative for your work, for your city. In short, you are a preservative for the earth. And men, when we fail to preserve, when we become contaminated by our sin, we lose our saltiness and are unable to preserve, things begin to rot and start to stink. In order to be effective as a preservative, we must be intentional in living out the characteristics of the blessed person outlined in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), as well as treating others with love, compassion, and mercy.

Secondly, Jesus said, “you are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). The world is a pretty big place and being the light of the world can be overwhelming. So, let’s look at it like this: view your world as where you live and where you work. You see men, each of us, as followers of Christ, have a mission field. It begins at home and works into our neighborhoods, our communities, our place of employment and beyond. You were intentionally placed where you are to let your light shine. So, let your light shine in a way that when people see you, they don’t just see a nice a guy. Rather, let them see a man living his life in a way that changes his family, changes his neighborhood, changes his community, changes his church, changes his work and changes the world around him. Doing this will glorify your Father in heaven.

This week’s challenge:
How are you going to be salt and light in your mission field this week?

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)