Fighting Hypocrisy

Jesus doesn't want His followers to be like hypocrites, we should be different.  Our lives should be lives of authenticity.  Jesus repeated this over and over again in three different sets of religious activities. 
  •     Prayer/devotions
  •     Giving
  •     Fasting
Authentic Christian integrity involves both the relationship and discipleship.  It's about a relationship, but there are regular disciplines we need to make in our life in order to grow in God.

Matthew 6
1  Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

2  So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men.  Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

"When" is repeated over and over.  None of them are conditional.  These are behaviors expected of us as followers of Jesus Christ.

Do our motives matter?
We do many things because of the people around us instead of because of our relationship with God.  Our relationship with God is not something that should be put on display to bring attention to us.  Life is not only what you do, but also why you do it.  It matters to God why we do the things we do.
As followers we shouldn't advertise our giving by drawing attention to yourself.

3  But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 

4  So that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

As followers of Christ, we should keep our giving on the "down low".  Jesus tells us not to make our devotion a display.
6  But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

We should be diligent in devotion when no one knows about it but you and God.
15  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

16  Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting.  Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

Fasting is a time going without food and focusing on God.  Some people take time without media.  Fasting is not a spectator sport.  Instead we should make our chosen sacrifices a secret between us and God
We tend to grumble about the commitments we have at church so other people can know how faithful we are.

Why do all these things if no one is going to give me credit?
God didn't put us in church family so people could see how awesome we are, God put us in a church family to serve one another and glorify Him.  No one is ever going to come to Jesus if all they see if me lifting myself up.  It's about us lifting up Jesus Christ by faithfully serving Him.

Show who God is when we're tempted to hide
Hide when you're tempted to show
Glorify God instead of ourselves

4  So that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

We want our interactions with people to show us in our best light
God sees the intimate secret details of your life
If we want to avoid hypocrisy, we need to cultivate that secret place in our life

Who are you when it's just you and God?
Who are you in the secret place?
1  Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

Everybody is living for a reward.  As we live for a reward, we have a choice to make.  Many of us live for a reward of public opinion.  For people around us to think we're a great person.
Jesus calls us to a higher reward.  If you live a life of integrity following Christ, He will reward you openly

You can trade your life for the reward of public approval, or you can accept the Reward who traded His life in public for you.

Are you going to live a life based on Jesus Christ or will it be based on what other people think of you?


"Supernatural Preparation" Savoring Truth in Psalm 119 - Part 4 (25-32)

     "I can do it mine own!",  "My can do it", "I know how already", "Dad, I'm 18!"  Raising four children has afforded my wife and I the privilege of hearing many such attempts at asserting ability that may or may not exist yet.  Whether it's a two year old attempting to go fishing alone (yes, this really happened), a three year old cutting their hair, a seven year old mowing the lawn, or an 18 year old deciding on the rules of the household, our kids often have opinions on their own abilities that are something short of accurate.  Optimistic, perhaps?  This weakness in the area of self-assessment doesn't fade as we transition into adulthood.  I am 40 years old and I still spend a lot of time telling God how wise I am.  

     One area in which we humans are notably deficient is in our Bible reading, comprehension, and application.  We are reliant on God to prepare our hearts to embrace what He is teaching us through His word.  A critical component of our relationship with God, many of us view Bible reading as a mundane task to be endured.  How far from the truth, that the sovereign Creator of the Universe is at work in each of our lives, on an individual level, to enable us to know Him and serve Him during the time He gives us here on the earth!  Take a look at what the Psalmist has to teach us this week:

    25      My soul clings to the dust;
    Revive me according to Your word.

     Here we find a  hurting, hopeless person turning to God for new life, for revival.  Their hope in God is based on their understanding of the promise of His word.  You have every reason to hold onto that same hope today, regardless of your circumstances.

    26      I have declared my ways, and You answered me;
    Teach me Your statutes.
    27      Make me understand the way of Your precepts;
    So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.

     It is God who prepares us to understand His Word.  It is God who makes our meditation meaningful!
    28      My soul melts from heaviness;
    Strengthen me according to Your word.

     Again we are reminded of the Psalmist's struggle, but even in reciting their despair, this person relies on God's ability to bring strength and new life to broken, hurting people.  So can you.

    29      Remove from me the way of lying,
    And grant me Your law graciously.
    30      I have chosen the way of truth;
    Your judgments I have laid before me.

     If we honestly evaluate our way of life in comparison with God's standard, we are led to repentance, to admitting we are not doing what He designed us to do.  Repentance is thinking again, getting off the way we have been pursuing and onto God's way.  There are two paths in life, and we all start out on the wrong one.  God removes us from "the way of lying" and enables us to "choose the way of truth".  
    31      I cling to Your testimonies;
    O LORD, do not put me to shame!
    32      I will run the course of Your commandments,
    For You shall enlarge my heart.

     How will this person stay the course of the command of God?  God will enlarge their heart.  God enables us to hold on to His word and do what it says.


Savoring Truth in Psalm 119 Part 3

17 Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.

 By God’s grace, we live and thrive!  

18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law. 19 I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me.  

We are dependent upon God’s illumination to bring meaning to His revelation  

20 My soul breaks with longing For Your judgments at all times. 21 You rebuke the proud—the cursed, Who stray from Your commandments. 22 Remove from me reproach and contempt, For I have kept Your testimonies.

 Our longing for justice will only be fulfilled in the decrees of God

  23 Princes also sit and speak against me, But Your servant meditates on Your statutes.

 Calm in chaos comes from confidence in Christ

  24 Your testimonies also are my delight And my counselors. 

  If God said it, it is worthy of being rejoiced in, repeated, and respected.


Savoring Truth in Psalm 119 Part 2

There are 176 verses in Psalm 119. Every single one of them speaks either to or about God. Every one!
The Bible is a unique communication from God.

In verses 9-11, we see one of the many reasons God's kids should see, share, and savor the truth:
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
God uses His word to protect His people from sin.

Have you seen the excited look on the face of a lottery winner? What if there is something better AND more accessible?
Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared All the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.
The Bible is a precious gift worthy of being learned, shared, and treasured

I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.

Let our life stories include a focused commitment to remember God’s word.


Savoring Truth in Psalm 119

The vision of Savoring Truth is to "see, share, and savor the truth". There is a whole lot of this going on in Psalm 119. The entire Psalm is about the Word of God. There is also a distinct focus on God himself. Every verse of this Psalm either speaks to God, about him, or both.

The upcoming series of posts on Psalm 119 will be based on a sermon series I shared last year at Silver Lake Baptist Church. As the Psalm is divided into 22 stanzas of eight verses each, so was the sermon series. So, most likely, will these posts appear. We begin with an observation from the Psalmist as displayed above in verses one and two; there is a blessing for those who faithfully apply the truth to their lives. There is a blessing for those who follow God wholeheartedly. They are happy. They have had good bestowed upon them. We see a first hint in verse three that obedience to the command of God offers protection from sin (more on that in the near future). Finally, in verses 4-8, we find the Psalmist's acknowledgment of God's order to diligently keep his precepts and a commitment to do exactly that. Even a prayer or wish (vs 5) that the motives of the writer could change to be more in alignment with God's will. The good news for modern followers of God is that your motives have been changed by the Holy Spirit living inside of you if you are a believer in Jesus Christ. One of the changes being made in your life is a developing love for the truth. I hope you will come back from time to time and celebrate that change with us as we savor the truth together.


10 free copies of the New Testament Challenge!

Hello, Thank you for reading the Savoring Truth blog. I want to give you a quick heads-up regarding an opportunity that may interest you. Beginning at midnight tonight local time, Goodreads will be hosting a giveaway of my book, New Testament Challenge. In order to make it easier for you, here is your chance to enter to win a copy of your own!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

New Testament Challenge Paperback by Chuck Orr II

New Testament Challenge Paperback

by Chuck Orr II

Giveaway ends February 09, 2016.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


Devotions - 5 Reasons


     One of the difficult life lessons I still periodically struggle to learn is that our time is limited.  Each day, there are more things that I need to do, want to do, or get to do than I have time to actually do in that day's 24 hour allocation of life.  When extended over a lifetime, we see the same patterns hold true for many of us.  In the words of the Circle of Life from Disney's The Lion King, "there is more to do than can ever be done."  Prioritization matters.  If I can really only do a limited number of things, I want to make sure that I do the most important things before it's too late.  This is one of the reasons for the Savoring Truth blog's existence.  We need a healthy dose of the Bible on a regular basis, whether it comes from devotions, Bible studies with friends, sermons, or preferably, all of the above. 
     One tool that I would like to offer you to help keep on track in this area of life (prioritizing truth) is our new weekly(ish) email called Savoring Truth appetizers.  This content is designed in support of my new book, the New Testament Challenge, but it will be useful whether or not you have the book.  If you would like to give it a try, please sign up on the form below.  You can cancel at any time, no hard feelings.  I appreciate you reading and I hope these emails increase your appetite for more time in the Bible.


Sign-up for Savoring Truth "Appetizers"


Savoring Truth


     This verse is found in a collection of fatherly advice from the famously wise King Solomon.  These are words from a guy who had everything the world could offer.  He had financial resources beyond those of his peers, power and prestige, he even surrounded himself with beautiful women.  Yet in all of his attaining, he attached a particular value to the truth.  He counseled his readers to “buy the truth”.  Having purchased the truth, he urges us not to give it up.  He counted the truth as precious, valuable, worth retaining.  Solomon also wrote the book we call Ecclesiastes.  If you invest some time in the study that book, you will find that Solomon was not satisfied, even in all his possessions and relationships. It turns out that one of the many reasons the truth is so valuable is that it protects from living lives based on lies.  You can run as hard as you want in pursuit of the lie that a little more money will make you happy, but Solomon has been there and it didn’t work for him.  You can invest as much of your life as you choose in the lie that there is fulfillment in relationships with members of the opposite sex, but Solomon has been there and testifies that this didn’t bring meaning to his life either.  You can become a workaholic because of the lie that your accomplishments will bring about the respect you want from the rest of the world.  Solomon tried that, too.  The Truth tells you that you are created by a God who loves you and desires a relationship with you.  Today.  As you are now.  I’ll buy that.

     What are you doing to acquire and hold on to the truth?  This blog aims to help with that effort by seeing, sharing, and savoring truth. I hope you will become a frequent visitor and help me in that pursuit.  I believe the Bible is the source of truth and that knowing and applying it is still changing lives today.