“What is Truth?” (John 18:38) People Still Asks the Same Question
August 10, 2017, 1:56 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: ,

If you are living in our world today, I’m sure that you notice how often we have at least two sides to any issue. Both sides look at the other side’s logic and reasoning as flawed, based on misconceptions and lies. If you have children you have no doubt interrupted a heated discussion, perhaps even a fight and then asked that ridiculous question, “what’s wrong?” Listening to each side finds that whatever happened will have to be discovered some other way because the two stories you are hearing can’t be about the same event.
The same thing happened during the life of Jesus. Beginning with Adam and Eve’s sin, two different worldviews have been used to interpret the events of life. One is based on God’s view, while the other is the result of man’s interpretation based on his knowledge and understanding at that point of life.
As we go to John 18, we find Jesus arrested as a part of the Jewish religious leaders’ plot to discredit and destroy Jesus. Taking advantage of a leak from one of Jesus’s own, they developed a plot to use this disloyal and greedy “disciple” to locate Jesus and have Him arrested. Following His arrest, a series of illegal trials occur, showing that the alleged loyalty to the Mosaic Law is set aside for what they believe to be a necessary death to save what they hold as important. In case you misunderstand, while they tried to deceive others into thinking that their actions were because of their loyalty to God, it was really motivated by their loyalty to themselves. They loved the position of honor, the power they possessed, and the material wealth they gained by doing “God’s bidding”.
So, to gain the Roman’s approval for a public death on the cross, a lie about Jesus is told, and He is taken before Pilate. Pilate didn’t agree with the Jews about the need of a Roman trial leading to Jesus’ death as he attempted to turn from their request. As they persisted, Pilate agreed, for political reasons, to put Jesus on trial, under Roman law.
Pilate asked a simple question, but one of extreme importance. “Are you the King of the Jews?” If Jesus answered yes, then He would be an insurrectionist, leading a rebellion against the Roman government. If Jesus answered no, then His claim to be the Messiah would be destroyed. Notice what Jesus said. Is this your personal belief that I am the Jewish king, or has someone else brought the charge against me? The discussion goes back and forward with Jesus telling Pilate the Messiah’s kingdom wasn’t a temporary, physical kingdom like the Romans. So once again Pilate asks, “Are you a king then?”
Jesus gave an answer that revealed The Plan of the Ages was being carried out by these events. “You said that I am a king. That’s the reason for my virgin birth. I have come, God in the flesh of man as the Messiah. My purpose is to bear witness to all this Truth, God came to rescue man from the punishment of sin. God, in human form, came to pay for man’s rebellious and evil disobedience against the expressed will and standards of God. God, as a man, to die the necessary death to pay for all of mankind’s sin. I came to tell that Great News of Eternal Truth. Everyone can find the truth, because I am the Truth Speaker. My word is the absolute, unchangeable, and eternal Truth from God Himself.”
Confronted with this Truth from this One who claims both in words and deeds to be the Messiah, God in the flesh, Pilate does what so many unfortunately do. He asked, “what is truth?” At this very moment of being confronted with Truth, Pilate chose to reject the Truth. He will go back to the Jewish leaders and tell them he finds no criminal acts, no guilt, nothing for which Jesus should die. But instead of putting complete faith in Jesus and basing his life on Jesus, Pilate turned to the false truth which he was comfortable and made a choice that he decided was best despite the overwhelming evidence that Jesus was Truth.
So, what do we learn? We have two versions of truth. One is that truth which we develop over time. We live in a world that presses us into the mold that everyone else follows. Resistance to this earthly truth is futile as we learn to pursue the American dream that shows us that it is important that we strive for material possessions, achievements, honors, and positions of importance, and fill our lives with exciting and unforgettable experiences. This truth is ever-changing and adapts to our current situation.
But there is another Truth. It is from God and is based on Him. While we know this Truth is absolute, eternal, and unchangeable it is also uncomfortable and contrary to every message we get in life. This Truth demands change as God transforms us into Christ-likeness. The transformation at times is uncomfortable and demands self-sacrifice. We go from wanting it all, seeking material rewards for our efforts to be great to following Jesus as His slave.
We have a choice to make. God’s Truth or the common truth of this world that really isn’t truth at all. This world’s truth is based on a lie, “man is the center of the universe”. What will you do?

Following Jesus, Filled by the Holy Spirit and Me!

Based on Romans 12:9-21 here is a self-test on the marks of a true Christian. Here is what God tells us we should see as we reflect being in Christ and having the Holy Spirit in control of us:
1. Love others sincerely.
2. Hate evil and hold on to what is good.
3. Love (or be devoted to) other Christians like we are a family.
4. Give others more honor than I want for me
5. Work hard in serving the Lord with all my heart.
6. Be joyful
7. Endure through troubles
8. Pray at all times faithfully.
9. Welcome strangers in need and be eager to show hospitality.
10. Wish good upon those who have hurt me
11. Be happy with those who are happy and cry with those who cry.
12. Determine to live in peace with others.
13. Don’t be proud of who I think I am and make friends with those who seem unimportant.
14. Be willing to do the unimportant things.
15. Do think that I am smarter or wiser than others.
16. Don’t look for ways to pay back those who do wrong to me.
17. Be honorable and do what is right
18. Don’t punish those who have hurt me but trust God to make things right.
19. Help those who have harmed me when I have the opportunity and means to do it.
20. Don’t be defeated by evil but conquer evil with good acts.
This is not a checklist used to judge others. It is a passage from a letter to Roman Christians who have been urged to be the living sacrifices who follow Jesus. Paul is describing what it will look like when I am following Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform me from within. These actions aren’t normal and natural for me but are the result of a life devoted to Christ. Be real, authentic and reflect Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him.

Welcomed Annoyances
July 27, 2017, 2:59 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations:” (James 1:2). So, are you facing a difficult time in your life right now? Have your best plans failed and now you don’t know what to do? Ready to give up? The word of instruction from God through James is difficult but essential when our lives seem crowded with trials, tests, temptations-COUNT IT ALL JOY! Instead of resenting them as intruders and annoyances see them as blessings from God. Welcome them as gifts being sent from God in His process of transforming us into Christ-likeness. So now that you have read this truth, what is your choice- obey and count the bad things in your life as joy because God is using it for His plan for you, or rebel and keep stressing and trying to control your life according to your plan.

To Judge or To Receive, That is the Question
July 26, 2017, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” (Romans 14:1) This verse is a part of a passage that goes through verse 12. In that “Bible belt” of the early church the crucial issues were over what was to be eaten and what day was to be honored above others. It seems the issue that divided the church had to do with whether the Mosaic law was still to be followed. Surprisingly the more mature Christians saw that they were free from the law and, in the case of what was to be eaten, saw that they were free to eat meat that they could purchase that had been offered to idols. Their reasoning was simple, idols are pieces of wood or precious metals and nothing more. They were fake and didn’t exist. Just like the false gods of today. They are merely the creations of man’s imaginations and haven’t revealed themselves to man as God has. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, shows us what God is like in a personal way. So the stronger Christians took advantage of low prices for the meat offered to idols and eat it. The weaker Christians struggled with that choice. To them, honoring God involved not eating this defiled meat. So instead of being united together, the early church was divided over this issue. God gives instruction through Paul that is still practical today. Believers are God’s slaves. He is the One in charge of them. When we read the Bible, we are only doing one step in finding out what God is saying. We need to take the second step and interpret the Bible. What is God saying in this passage? This involves study, investigation, and time. It also involves something that we as Christians have abandoned, THINKING. So after studying and researching this section, we understand that when Paul writes, “but why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?” we find that what God is asking through Paul, “why do you judge other Christians and why do you think you’re right and they are wrong?” God is our judge because He is our master. This passage commands us to “receive” or “welcome” all Christians, understanding that they aren’t necessarily right or wrong, and we aren’t necessarily right or wrong. They simply have different opinions and views on non-essential things. The questions viewed here have nothing to do with the fundamental teachings of the Gospel. They have to do things in which a Christian may have a different opinion. Perhaps the reason for this different opinion is spiritual growth, perhaps background differences, perhaps God has dealt with issues more important in that person first. But we are to receive and the basis for that is this principle – we all will stand before the judgment seat of God and then each of us will answer for themselves to God. So verse 13 tell us not to judge another any more, so that we don’t hinder them.
Now here is the final step, APPLICATION. Right now, in your life, do you have someone who is a Christian that is wrong about something? If the answer is yes, then pay attention to the passage: receive (v1), don’t judge (v13) and edify (v19). Instead of hurting a Christian because they are wrong, help them to grow. Pray for them first, sit down and learn from the Bible what God tells us, and then in a loving way, begin to share that truth. But while doing this always, always, always remember, I COULD BE WRONG! GOD IS THEIR JUDGE! MY RESPONSIBILITY IS TO RECEIVE IN LOVE.

To Believe or Not To Believe!
July 17, 2017, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

The short epistle from Jude is a letter written by a man who was overwhelmed by the grace of his half-brother Jesus that he had experienced. As a young man, he ridiculed the claim of Jesus to be the Messiah but an encounter after the resurrection changed him forever. Just like his brother James, he didn’t want to focus on the fact that he was a half-brother of Jesus, which could lead to a problem with pride but instead introduced himself as a slave of Jesus. Led by the Holy Spirit, he wrote to saved people who he described as chosen, loved, and kept safe in Jesus Christ. To his faith family, he greeted with three blessings, mercy, peace, and love in abundance.
Jude shared that his original intention was to share his insights about the salvation we share as followers of Jesus Christ. But the Holy Spirit impressed upon him that a much bigger need had to be confronted by one who was committed to Jesus Christ. The Great News of Jesus was under attack and an army of true believers were needed to rise up to earnestly contend with a defense of the authentic Gospel message which God entrusted once and for all to all believers.
So, who was attacking the Gospel? Jude, like Peter in 2 Peter, tells that the church had been infiltrated by enemies of the Gospel posing as “believers”. Predicted by the prophets, these pretenders are against God, making them antichrists. In addition, they had taken grace and misused it to rationalize their sexual sins. Worst of all they refused to accept Jesus Christ as the Master and Lord of their lives.
God will judge these false teachers is the message Jude reminds his family who are reading his letter. He bases this on the character and behavior of God as seen in the Old Testament. God redeemed His people from Egypt and called them to go into the Promised Land. He told them He would give them the land. But they listened to the 10 spies who said it was impossible (the false teachers) instead of the 2 who wanted to take the land. (The true teachers.) Those who followed the false teachers and didn’t believe, although they still claimed to be the people of God, were destroyed in the wilderness. The two who believed entered the promised land!
Jude reminds them that even angels had to act in faith. Those who followed the false teacher (Lucifer) were cast out of heaven, with some bound in chains, awaiting judgment. The Holy Spirit leads Jude to remind the people of the cities of and surrounding Sodom and Gomorrah. They rejected God’s standards concerning sex and pursued sexual relationships and sins that God doesn’t allow. As a result of unbelief, they suffered judgment from God.
False teachers face the same judgment at the hands of God. Let’s stop for a moment and learn lessons from each of these examples. Wasn’t the first group’s problem that while they had seen remarkable things done by God, they believed in circumstances more than they believed in God? Think about all that they had seen. God revealed Himself to them by sending a leader, Moses, who confronted Pharaoh, the absolute ruler of Egypt face to face, yet wasn’t harmed. This leader challenged the power of the Egyptians’ false gods with a series of tests which proved that Jehovah was more powerful than any of their fake gods. Finally, the people of God were given the right to go from Egypt to a land God had given them. But on their way out, Pharaoh decided to recapture them, perhaps even kill them before they crossed the Red Sea. So with the Egyptian army behind them, boundaries on either side, and the Red Sea before them, they were trapped by the circumstances. So what did God do? He rescued them, delivered them, saved them from certain death. But in just a few days, they reveal that they don’t really believe God because they refuse to follow Him.
The second group is more baffling. Why would angels, who were each day in the presence of God, follow anyone else? Perhaps what we learn by these who rejected God is that so like to follow those who are like them rather than One who is Superior to them. Maybe they are convinced by the talk of Lucifer that he had a better plan that would enable them to have something better than they have? These angels may be examples of those who are never content with where God has placed them in His plan. Maybe they reject God because they reject their role?
The third group turn from God because they want to live life without rules. To them, God gives restrictions and they want to experience life without anything being off limits. They have chosen to decide what their lifestyle and life choices are without considering God. He is just a way to get to heaven but not the Lord and Master of their lives.
So here is the start of the study. Where do you stand? What group are you most like?

My Dear Friend
July 3, 2017, 6:20 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

3rd John is a very personal letter from the Apostle John to a dear friend, who is most likely a pastor. Personal letters are difficult at times but I think the number 3 can help with this letter. For example, this letter mentions 3 people, Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius. One is a pastor, one is a problem, and one is a “postal worker” who delivered the letter. From each person we are challenged as to our character and conduct.
I also noticed 3 qualities that are emphasized in this epistle. John, as led by the Spirit, wants us to focus on love, truth, and faithfulness. I find it amazing that in our culture today, these are three issues with which Christians struggle. Being able to demonstrate true, unconditional love is difficult is a society which stresses competition and the desire to be the top dog in our little world. Children show the desire to be the favorite as they fight for attention from parents. That desire continues as we seek our classmates attention, to gain approval from our friends, as we seek promotion and recognition on the job. Putting that aside and pouring ourselves into the success of others is difficult, especially on a daily basis and especially toward those who are “lesser” than we are.
We also live in a world that truth is no longer truth. Absolute truth is rejected and the area between right and wrong is faded and vanished. Every event has a spin on it. Every person’s opinion is equally right, unless it is the opinion of someone who rejects relativism and believes that God has established truth because He is Truth. Fake news is a real thing and determining the truth from the false is left up to each individual But God gives truth that is absolute, eternal, and relevant to each person in every culture at all times.
The third element is faithfulness. The concept of doing something and doing it right all the time is no longer a part of our world. As a child of God, I am to do all things to the glory of God. That means being faithful in all areas of my life.
The third set of 3s is found in the use of the word “beloved” (v2, 5, 11). Beloved, or dear friend, prosper in life. Beloved, do what you do faithfully to all. Beloved, follow good not evil. We are challenged to live today in a world as overcomers, faithfully giving our all to do what is good and right in God’s sight, regardless of what others do.
Read the epistle and ask the Spirit to challenge you.

I Promise!
June 28, 2017, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

Leviticus 5:4 “Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. 5 And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing: 6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.”
Have you ever made a promise to do something without carefully considering whether you can or whether you should. We make promises that sometimes are the result of good intentions but we sometimes tell someone we will do something that has an evil outcome. And then we don’t do it. This passage speaks of that. In the Old Testament economy, God demonstrates the importance of keeping your word. When you realize that you have made a careless promise, even if when you made it, you really thought you could do it, you must step up to accept the consequences. An offering for the guilt of not keeping your promise was a remedy for your sin. Think of how this would work in our world today. How many promises do we make that we never keep? Once, I promised my youngest daughter to go to the beach on her birthday. Within a few miles from home, my children were breathing each others oxygen and were asking are we there yet. I decided that we weren’t going to the beach. Although it has been years, my daughter still reminds me of that promise I broke.
Have you ever promised “never to do it again”, only to break that promises within a short time? Worst of all, I think of promises I make to God to follow Him, to study His word, to obey His command to love, to die to myself and realize how serious God sees that based on this passage. While I don’t have to make a sacrifice of a female lamb or goat today, I still need to remember the sacrifice that God made because of my rash vow.
God, please let me mean what I promise and be willing to carry it out. Help me to see life from your point of view and be sensitive to what the Spirit is directing in my life.