His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. 2 Chron. 17:6a
I'm not a theologian, but I love God's Word and read it every day. One of my favorite ways to read through the Bible is chronologically. In case you didn't know, the content of the Bible is not laid out in the order that it occurred in history. This year I'm once again reading the Bible chronologically.
Sometime in early June I found myself reading in the book of 2 Chronicles. This is a book that highlights much of the nation of Israel's early history as they struggled to establish a unified kingdom (very unsuccessfully, I might add). There were many kings who came and went, most of whom were not good kings, regularly summarized by these words, "And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord." But a few kings would have positive things said about them, that they obeyed the Lord and walked in his commandments. One such king was a man named Jehoshaphat.
While Jehoshaphat was certainly not perfect (no king is other than Jesus), he had this said of him: His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. (2 Chron. 17:6a) Wow! What a wonderful badge to be pinned on the chest of any human being. These words leapt off the pages of Scripture and sunk deep into my soul. Oh, Lord, how I long to be labeled with such words of commendation.
What does it mean to be "courageous in the ways of the Lord?"
Courage is defined as "the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery." I think everyone (especially men) would like to be described as courageous. We want that noble quality that emboldens us to face difficulties with bravery, even heroism. But anyone can exhibit the actions of courage, even those of poor character. What separates the merely courageous from those who are courageous "in the ways of the Lord?"
To boil down "the ways of Lord" you could simply go to Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which says, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." And in another place in the law (Lev. 19:18) it says, "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."
These are the two passages that Jesus drew from when millennia later he would be asked by a religious leader what the greatest commandment was. Jesus responded, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40) This is the way of the Lord: to love God and love others in obedience to God's law.
But the Scriptures did not say that Jehoshaphat simply acted courageously in the ways of the Lord. It says his heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. Why is this significant? Because it is from the heart that we live. What is in the heart is what makes a person righteous or unrighteous before God (Mark 7:14-23). It was Jehoshaphat's heart that was being commended by God, not merely his actions.
How can you and I have this same commendation pinned on our lives? In exactly the same way it was for Jehoshaphat: to obey God from a pure heart. Are there areas in your life in which you are not obeying the Word of God? Or are you obeying the "letter" of God's law but with impure motives, maybe trying to impress people instead of truly serving God for His own sake? Check your heart and ask God for boldness of character in the face of temptation and opposition.
The world we live in today is begging for us to blend in and abandon our Christian beliefs. You and I have a choice: to be "courageous in the ways of the Lord" or to "do what is evil in the sight of the Lord." What is in your heart to do today? May you grow in courageous love day by day...
by Dan Allender
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Everyone knows addiction is unhealthy. Even workaholics (often considered an "acceptable" addiction) who make it to the top in their career and finances inevitably admit that they sacrificed many important parts of their lives to get there (namely, family relationships).
And most addicts have had someone in their life tell them they need to get into recovery, but few are ever told the real benefits of doing so. Sadly, they are often left to conclude that recovery is as good as any other alternative because addiction clearly isn't working.
I believe there are countless benefits to recovery, but for the sake of time and space I am going to only share the top 5 major benefits, broken down into a 5-part series I will roll out in the coming days. Maybe these will help you or a loved one have a better picture of why recovery is the best alternative to addiction.
Recovery Benefit #1:
Recovery leads you out of secrecy and deception.
Every addict has lied. It is Addiction 101 -- you must lie if you want to keep doing what you're doing. Lying becomes like a dialect of addicts. They become highly skilled in the art of deception so as to not let the truth of their addictive ways leak out. Their fear of being truly known is so overwhelming that they believe their only option for survival is to hide and lie.
This is why it is so difficult for addicts to enter recovery: they fear being known. This is also why it is so important for those seeking to help addicts to respond with kindness and encouragement when they finally do take that first step and tell their full story. The last thing an addict needs at that point is someone beating them up for telling the truth. That's a certain recipe for sending them right back into hiding and more addiction.
Recovery invites an addict to tell their whole story, every bit of it. No secrets. No lies. No hiding. It is a journey of disclosing the depths of the heart and learning what the power of the truth can do.
The truth is the only way to defeat a lie. And the Truth (Jesus Christ) is what ultimately sets the captives free. It is a beautiful thing to see an addict share their story and discover that they can still be loved in spite of their terrible failures. Such grace turns many addicts from liars and cheats into men and women of great integrity and compassion.
In my next post I will share the #2 benefit of recovery: Recovery leads to better physical health. See you then!
Visit PureCommunity.org for helpful recovery resources
Secrets: A true story of addiction, infidelity and second chances
by Jonathan Daugherty
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The following is the video from a webinar I presented for the Apologetics Academy on God's Design for Sexuality. If you want to skip to "the good stuff" just go to 1:09:06(ish).
Click here if you'd like to download the PDF handout for the webinar.
The following is a video post I recorded 2 years ago. While the video may be dated, the content is timeless. We are exhorted by God's Word to live without a "hint" of sexual immorality. The abundant life in Christ is only found in radical obedience to His Word.
The Holiness of God
by R.C. Sproul
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The devil isn't creative, just persistent...
I have come into contact with thousands of sex addicts over the years. I myself was bound up in sexual addiction for 13 years. In all my interactions with the issue of sexual lust, I have come to realize one fundamental characteristic that is common to its nature: lies. There is never one moment in which lust tells you the truth. And it is this key insight that can actually help you break free from the chains of lust...for good.
In this brief article I want to share with you some of the primary lies that your lust will tell you. These probably won't shock you (especially if you've been believing them), but my hope is that by exposing them you will become more aware of the moments in which you are drifting toward their appeals and take the corrective action to flee to the shelter of truth.
Lie #1: Lust will bring contentment
The bedrock of the lies of lust rests on the idea that God, and whatever he can offer, just isn't enough. This is the lie that ultimately led to the original sin. When Satan tempted Eve in the garden, he planted the seed of doubt in her mind that God was not actually good and not all that she needed to be content. He enticed her mind to begin entertaining thoughts that God was withholding something from her that she needed. This seed of doubt traveled from her mind to her will, eventually appealing its case to her senses when she "saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye." This captures the moment when lust was born in the heart of mankind.
This lust has burned in our sin nature from the very beginning of the fall. And the enemy has used this greatly to his advantage when it comes to sexual lust. Our sexual lust is aroused whenever it reaches the line dividing what God has said is right and pure for our minds and bodies and what sin demands in opposition. We hear the whispers of the father of lies telling us that God is restrictive in his requirements regarding our sexuality, and that the fruit of our lust will complete us and make us whole, fulfilling our truest, deepest desires. When we begin to spin these lies in our mind, it isn't a far journey to looking and seeing that such forbidden fruit is "pleasing to the eye."
Lust, however, only produces more discontent. Lust is perpetually dissatisfied. That is the nature of lust, constantly demanding more, promising that what is just outside your reach is what will ultimately satisfy. But each time you believe the lie, you are left craving more because you came up terribly empty. Lust never satisfies...never.
Lie #2: Lust will not hurt anyone
This is what we are led to believe when we begin to listen to the lies of lust. Even as our discontent grows and the evidence mounts that lust can't give us what we need, we dive in deeper because we are certain that we aren't hurting anyone. After all, what you do in the dark when no one is looking can't possibly affect others, right? Wrong!
Pornography is the most common avenue by which this "lust-won't-hurt-anyone" thinking derives. Millions of men (and women) each week gaze lustfully at the nude images portrayed through porn and quietly tell themselves, "I'm not hurting anyone. These are just pictures. It's not like I'm actually having an affair or fornicating."
Have you ever stopped for just a brief moment and given a thought about the women (or men) in the porn? That is somebody's daughter or son. That is a REAL person being abused through the exploitation of the body God fashioned around their soul. They are made in the image of God and they are being hurt. Lust lies when it deceives you into thinking that it doesn't hurt anyone.
Lie #3: Lust will enhance your sexual relationship
Welcome to 21st century broadcast television and the dysfunctional world of Hollywood! The sexual message espoused by the media and our culture is this: monogamous sex in marriage isn't enough. And our flesh craves this lie of lust.
Countless couples, whether married or not, believe that bringing porn or some other sexually stimulating material into their bedroom will enhance their relationship. But the fundamentals of lust's deception don't change. Adding to God's design will never cause improvement. The design God established for sex (one man with one woman in covenant marriage) was designed perfectly. It cannot be enhanced, improved upon, or added to. Whenever we try to improve what God has already declared good, we most certainly have entered into the realm of deception and sin.
The sadness of this lie of lust is that it causes individuals to believe that sex is merely a physical act, devoid of true intimacy and attachment. But sex is more than a physical act. It is emotional, spiritual, and even a bit mysterious. God made it this way because sex was to be a picture of the depth of intimacy we could share in our relationship with him. It is deeply personal, uniquely vulnerable, and permanently bonding. To believe that sex is just bodies connecting is to miss the whole point. And that's exactly what lust desires.
God, however, desires that we live free from the suffocating chains of our lust. He also provides the means by which we can live such a life of freedom. Jesus promised that after his resurrection and ascension into heaven that he would send a helper, his Holy Spirit, and that he would lead us into all truth. As a believer in Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit in us and therefore we have the power to live free from the lies of lust. We are even promised in Galatians 5:16 that as we "live by the Spirit... you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." As we grow in our dependence on God's Holy Spirit to life his life through us, we are promised that lust will not dominate us.
With such a great promise given to us, we would do well to focus our attention on what it means to "live by the Spirit." And thankfully, God doesn't make that complicated for us. To live by the Spirit is to know Truth (i.e. Jesus) and follow him (John 8). Knowing truth comes by knowing the Word of God, and interacting with him through prayer. Moment by moment we live connected to our Creator, through faith in Jesus, so that his life may live through us. This is living by the Spirit. And it is pure peace, comfort and joy!
The Lies We Believe
by Chris Thurman
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