Truth

There are truths and there are lies.

To that – everyone can agree.

The hard part comes when we try to decipher what is a truth and what is a lie.

People can only see one small part of the world and of time. Our view is extraordinarily limited. Therefore, our definition of truth can not help but be severely limited.

The creator of all the world and of all time is the only one who can define TRUTH.

Jesus often said, “I tell you the truth.” Here are a few instances:

I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life and will not be condemned.”

I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, they will never see death.”

So now we know the opposites of these truths are lies. The world often says “We don’t need Jesus or God. We can do it all on our own.” Don’t believe it for a minute!

Jesus explains lies to us as well. The devil “was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” All lies come from Satan. Do not let him deceive you!

Jesus goes on to pray to the Heavenly Father. “Sanctify them (believers) by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17

Jesus also said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

He also gave us his mission statement. “For this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37

Jesus Is The Truth!

John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

After Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, his disciples went on to teach his truth.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Acts 16:13

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all people life and breath and everything else…God did this so that people would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:24-27

In the book of Revelation, Jesus gives us his last words for us to hold on to.

He tells us, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and them with me.”

This Bible Study closely examines what God has given us as “The Truth”.

The Truth Project – Focus on the Family

“I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?” John 8:46 

Suffering Matures Us

In my reading lately, I have run across a common theme time and again. Difficulties in our lives are viewed differently when we claim Christ as our Lord. They are not something to be feared and avoided. They should be seen as a time to draw closer to God.

“Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Suffering and difficulties are the means by which we mature.

A child who is given everything, but is never required to work or wait for what they receive, will undoubtedly become spoiled. Their character will be selfish, greedy and demanding. The same is true of us adults. When life is always easy and we get all we think we want, we begin to falsely believe that we are deserving and entitled. We think we are powerful, brilliant, successful. And then our spiritual life becomes shallow – or non-existent. When we truly desire a relationship with God, then He begins to shape our character. He brings physical difficulties to whittle away our pride and our self. Yes, it hurts when He uses that sharp knife to shape us. Yet, if we persevere, maturity comes. Our dependence on God grows and the spoiled child within us changes into a loving, giving, grateful child of God.

“Perseverance must finish its work.” James 1:4 — Let it do its work in you.

“If only we would believe that we’re in-process and underway and willingly consent to be made. If only we would submit fully to our Maker’s hands as the clay submits to the potter.” David Roper, Growing Slowly Wise

“It is quite useless knocking at the door of heaven for earthly comfort. It’s not the sort of comfort they supply there.” C. S. Lewis

Brennan Manning Blessing:

May all your expectations be frustrated;

May all your plans be thwarted;

May all your desires be withered into nothingness…

That you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the compassion of God who is Father, Son, and Spirit.

Amen.

Christian Simplicity

There are a number of Christian disciplines that have been practiced for centuries such as Prayer and Fasting, Meditation, Simplicity, and Confession.

Richard Foster in his book entitled Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth, addresses these disciplines and more. It is a book that I have read, and reread, for many years. It is written in an easy-to-read conversational tone that encourages the reader in their walk with the Lord and opens their eyes to daily living habits that will help them to grow and mature.

This year, in my spiritual life, I would like to focus on Simplicity.

The word minimalist is a new word that is floating around these days. It is a deep and rich concept—but it is not new. The discipline of Simplicity has been taught and practiced for thousands of years.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2

It is so easy to become bound and gagged to this world. We are lured into buying more and more with snappy advertisements and entrancing commercials.

Our brains slowly adjust to the environment around us till we no longer notice that it is taking us where we do not want to go.

As Richard Foster says in Celebration of Discipline, “Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”

Living a life of buying more, spending more and looking for more leads to an increase in greed and self-centeredness. When we turn and begin to move into deeper and more meaningful lives, our eyes become opened to the needs of others around us.

Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats highlights the necessity of helping others.  “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Matt 6:19-21 also points us to Simplicity. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Minimalism helps us to create living space in our homes and cars. This is always a good thing. But Christian simplicity turns our hearts from desiring those things in the first place to desiring a closer walk with God. Jesus made it clear that people are not able to love money (possessions) and God at the same time. We simply can not do it. Our heart will follow where our treasure is stored. We must be intentional about where we put our treasure. Daily, we must make this decision.

I have been going through all the things in my home. Some I will keep for the feeling they give me of family connections. However, many things that I have picked up at one store or another add no spiritual value to my life. Out they go. The local thrift shop is happy to have them.

Richard Foster says, “The materialistic base of our age has become so pervasive that it has given people grave doubts about their ability to reach beyond the physical world.” Isn’t that just what Satan wants?

Simplicity means more than having fewer things. It is also how we spend our time. I am aiming to give my time to fewer people who need it, rather than trying to invest in every single person I come across during the entire year.

What are some other ways of simplifying our lives to further God’s kingdom?

Preparing Our Hearts for Easter – Ritual or Relationship?

Easter is coming soon.

For Christians, this is the most important holiday of the year!

What is Easter? Yes, it is fun to play bunnies and baskets of goodies and hidden eggs. But No, that is not Easter.

Easter is God – Himself – physically dying a tortuous death, then conquering death itself, so I can spend eternity with Him. That is Christianity! That is the Love of God!

Therefore, Easter is something that we must prepare our hearts for.

My sin has built an impenetrable barrier between God and myself. Now is the time to face that barrier – admit that I have built it and admit that I cannot take it down by myself.

God is Love. As sinners we have cut ourselves off from all Love. Gossip, jealousy, slander, hate, perversion, cruelty, violence – these all come from a lack of Love in our lives. A lack of Love in our lives comes from keeping God at a distance; it comes from not investing in that relationship.

It is vital that we connect with God personally.

When we think of preparing for Easter, do we think of Ritual or Relationship?

The dictionary definition of a ritual is:

  • done in accordance with social custom or normal protocol
  • like handshakes and background checks
  • an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner

Lent can be a ritual, as can communion.

Ritual can blind us – making us think that we are preparing our hearts when we are really just going through the motions.

Ritual is not bad. It can be very good. However, if it becomes our goal, then it is getting in the way of our Relationship with God.  

Let’s move away from ritual – and towards Relationship.

  • Sit down and make a list on paper of all the sins you have ever committed. Be honest. Use a whole notebook if need be.
  • Read the list and soak in it. Let the heavy weight descend on you. Don’t push it away when you begin to feel uncomfortable.
  • Cry over that list.
  • Apologize to the Father, to the Son Jesus Christ, and to the Spirit. Spend time with this. Don’t rush.
  • Picture yourself wearing sackcloth and covered in ashes.
  • Beg the Father’s forgiveness.
  • Ask Jesus to come into your heart.
  • Pray for the Spirit to fill you with His Love.
  • Listen for what God has to say to you!
  • Listen some more.

Spend time with each step. Don’t make it a perfunctory ritual. “Okay, I did it.”

This should take at least two hours.

Do you feel God’s presence? If not, then commit to more hours of prayer in the coming week. Prove to Him that you are serious about this. Invest in building this relationship.

How do you build a relationship that is important to you? You spend time with that person. You talk, you laugh, you cry, you ask a lot of questions to get to know them better. You tell them a lot about yourself.

Revelation 3:19-20

        Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

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Prepare you heart for this coming Easter season!

Compassion and Humility

We stood in a small circle. People with jangled nerves and full of worry for our nation. Hushed voices said for the hundredth time, “I never thought I would see something like this in my life.”

Then a strong, calm voice spoke up. “Compassion and humility. The more people that show compassion and humility, the stronger we will be as a society and as a nation.”

Compassion = sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Sympathy. The act or capacity for sharing the painful feelings of another. (Merriam-Webster)

Ephesians 4:32   Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Colossians 3:12   Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Humility = freedom from pride or arrogance. Modesty. Has its origin in the Latin word humilis, meaning “low.” (Merriam-Webster)

Ephesians 4:2   Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Philippians 2:3   Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.

1 Peter 3:8   Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

Let’s put away pride and anger. Satan loves to see us tear each other up!

If you find it difficult to love and serve one another, pray to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God has promised to give you love and help when you ask for it.

Pray!

Pray the New Year In

The world has much to pray about this New Year. The virus may be uppermost in your mind, but for now let’s go deeper than that. We all want to be happy and healthy and comfortable. So that is how we pray.

I propose that we are praying for the wrong things.

God has promised to hear us, to answer us, to be there with us. He has not promised to give us every item we ask for. His will is not for every person to be healed, happy and comfortable. His will is for every person to come to Him, to connect with Him in a real relationship of Love.

Matt. 7:7-8 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Ask and ‘it’ will be given to you.” What is ‘it’? It is that close, loving relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord. God has promised to give ‘it’ to us and He will, but we must seek for it – in truth.

Do we really want to hear God – or do we just want God to hear us? We cannot have one without the other.

Ps. 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on him. To all who call on him in truth.

Yet at times, praying is hard work. Paul Miller describes it this way in his book A Praying Life.

“We last for about fifteen seconds, and then out of nowhere the day’s to-do list pops up and our minds are off on a tangent. We catch ourselves and, by sheer force of the will, go back to praying. Before we know it, it has happened again. Instead of praying, we are doing a confused mix of wandering and worrying. Then the guilt sets in. Something must be wrong with me. Other Christians don’t seem to have this trouble praying. After five minutes we give up, saying, “I am no good at this. I might as well get some work done.

Something is wrong with us. Our natural desire to pray come from Creation. We are made in the image of God. Our inability to pray comes from the Fall. Evil has marred our image. We want to talk to God but can’t. The friction of our desire to pray, combined with our badly damaged prayer antennae, leads to constant frustration. It’s as if we’ve had a stroke.”

Doubts begin to creep in. Does it even do any good to pray? Does God even care? Is there even a God out there? But we cannot admit our doubts to others – sometimes we cannot even admit them to ourselves. Then guilt begins to pile on top of doubt like ten thick woolen blankets, shutting out the light and the air.

Or maybe we have prayed non-stop for years for a friend’s healing or a family member’s salvation with no improvement whatsoever. Then we give up completely.

Paul Miller shares with us, “Life’s unexpected turns had created a path in my heart to God; God taught me to pray through suffering.”

Note what he said – “…created a path in my heart to God”. That is relationship! Relationship that was built in the hard times.

Praying is reaching out to God. It is connecting with Him no matter what happens afterward. He doesn’t need the ‘right words’ in the ‘right formula’. We need to lay ourselves before Him, to Love Him, to feel Loved by Him.

Matt. 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

What is it that is heavy on your heart this New Year?

Go to God.

Lay it down at His feet and reach out – earnestly – for His love.

Seek God, not answers.

Seek God and He has promised you will find Him.

Blind

(Story written by Chuck Murphy, found in his book Christ and the Cowboy. This is a wonderful picture of how God guides us.)

A lot of snow has fallen since I found the blind calf on the rock ledge nearly thirty years ago.

I had made most of my circle starting the calves to the feedlot. It had snowed about three inches the afternoon before, with enough wind to shake it out of the trees and clear the rocks and bare ground. I had ridden out on a rocky point when I saw a lone calf on a rock ledge some three hundred yards away. I rode as close as I could, dismounted, and climbed down to where he was. He had gotten over a rounded sandstone ledge about three feet high. There was a crack in the rock that he could have gotten up if he could have found it. Downward escape would have been to fall about five feet over another rounded edge to the grass and rocks below. The space that he was trapped on was about ten feet by fifteen feet. I could see where he had licked some snow for moisture, and had eaten the few bites of coarse grass at the base of the upper ledge. He was gaunt, dehydrated, and had probably been there for two or three days. His biggest problem was that he was totally blind in both eyes.

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

I knew that my horse couldn’t pull him back up over the ledge, and felt the best rescue effort was for him to jump down and make his way to open ground out the bottom. As I tried to encourage him to jump, I realized that he had no idea of how far it would be, and that he would feel like he was falling off the edge of the world. I maneuvered him to the area above the least rocks and pushed him off. My heart filled with compassion as I tried to imagine the fear of falling into the unknown.

In disoriented panic he scrambled to his feet and tried to escape this monster that had pushed him into this new field of obstacles and hazards. He bumped into trees and large rocks, and stumbled over the smaller rocks and down logs.

It took me several minutes to get back to my horse and ride around the rim to where he was. He had stumbled into a more open park, and I began to talk to him. He moved away from my voice and eventually learned that he could walk slowly without falling by taking high steps. I could have roped him at this time, but his fighting the rope would have been harder on him than falling over invisible hazards. I stayed fifty to seventy-five feet away, moving wide to either side, and by keeping a constant voice reference, I was able to maneuver him out on to an open meadow with no obstacles. From there, we had to negotiate a hundred-foot wide pass in the rim.

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I had switched to some cowboy songs to maintain a consistent sound, and he would move with some confidence. He soon learned that when my voice changed to words, an obstacle was eminent and he would be more cautious. At the top of the little pass we hit a trail used by the other calves. He became more sure of himself, feeling the trail with his feet and turning back when he felt the undisturbed snow on the side. Soon the calves that had already gathered at the feed lot began to bawl in response to my voice. The blind calf perked up in recognition of the sound of his kind. He knew that he had a chance if he could once more get with the herd. When the blind calf heard the cadence of the water pump jack he turned to the tank and drank deeply.

By the time I had the grain in the troughs he was mixed into the herd never to be isolated again.

This is the end of the story as far as the calf, but it has affected my life for over thirty years.

I remember the anguish in my heart as I pushed the frightened calf over the edge of the rock, and think of the anguish of Father God, as he pushes some of His children into frightening circumstances to save their souls.


I love this story. It is so easy for us to see that the cowboy has only good intentions for the calf. The calf need only trust this cowboy who knows how to rescue him.

Yet it is so difficult at times for us to see that Father God has only good intentions for us, His creation. We need only trust our Father who knows how to rescue us. The fall may feel like a plunge into the unknown darkness, but it is Father God bringing us closer to Him.

The Thoughts of God

Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

(From Andrew Murray, Teach Me to Pray)

God’s thoughts are “altogether beyond the power of our comprehension”.

Some people say – “God is cruel to send this virus.” …or that earthquake…or that flood. Others say there must be no God if all of this is happening.

These kinds of thoughts are not God’s thoughts – they are the thoughts of fallible people. God’s plans and purposes are light years away from ours. Once we truly understand that, then we can be humble before God and await His plan.

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Andrew Murray goes on to say, “God tells us that we are made in His image. By grace we are actually renewed again into that image. As we gaze upon God’s glory in Christ, we are changed into the same image by His Spirit. These, too, are thoughts, beyond our comprehension – our minds cannot take them in.

“God, by His Holy Spirit, conveys to our hearts the life and the light that can make us feel at home with these thoughts dwelling in us. But we need daily, prayerful fellowship with God if we are to enter into His mind and to have His thoughts make their home in us. It is by faith that God will not only reveal the beauty and the glory of these thoughts but will actually work in us their divine reality.

“Just think of what Paul writes: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). But as we pray God will reveal them through His Spirit.”

…God will reveal them.

…It is by faith.

…We need daily, prayerful fellowship with God.

As long as we are demanding of God, sitting in judgement of Him and His work, the door is closed between us and Him.

But – Be humble before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)

Do Not Be Afraid – But Be Afraid

There is no reason to fear this, or any, virus. God alone determines when we will die physically. We will all die – and none of us know when that time will be. That has always been and that will always be. Our great advancements in technology and economics will never do away with physical death. I will die. You will die. God holds all of our days in His hands.

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Psalm 139: 16

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Yet, the death of our body is not the end. We will all live forever. The question is – where will we live in eternity?

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you will go to be with Him in heaven. He has promised this.

Matt 14:1-4

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”  V. 6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If you have not acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Savior, then you will not be allowed into Heaven. That is what we should be afraid of!

Matt 10:28-31

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Stop running after material wealth. Stop spending your days filling yourself with sensual pleasures. Those things will not last. Look for God. Pray to Him. Ask and you WILL receive.

Rev. 3:20

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

How do you hear His voice? Read the Bible, pray and listen in solitude.

We don’t need to shut down the whole country. We need to turn back to God.

It is as simple at that.

Do you know Jesus Christ? Do you have any questions about Him?

Psalm 34

I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
    let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
    let us exalt his name together.

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I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
    He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
    he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

He freed me from all my fears.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
    for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
    but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, and listen to me,
    and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
12 Does anyone want to live a life
    that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
    and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
    his ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
    he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
    He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
    but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
    not one of them is broken!

21 Calamity will surely destroy the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
    No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.


We must turn from our selfish ways and return to the Lord. We must reach out to others in love, to help them and to give them hope.