Tag Archives: the Truth

Blessed Because (Psalm 145)

It is often that the verses my mother underlined in the Book of Psalms have to do with God’s love, protection, and faithfulness. Just in this one psalm, Mom underlined four verses:

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” (vs 3)

“The Lord is faithful to all his promises…” (vs 13b)

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (vs 18)

“The Lord watches over all who love him…” (vs 20a)

David tells us that God is worthy of praise. He is faithful, near to us, and watches over us. These verses are timely considering the unrest surrounding COVID 19. I pray that they are your experience in all this, that you are resting in the knowledge that God is with you every step of the way. I hope you aren’t living in fear like those who have no hope.

Mom seemed to understand the correlation between our personal relationship with God, and His blessings on us. He is near to all who call on him. But in verse 18, David repeats that thought with this caveat: “to all who call on him in truth.”

It’s a mistake to think God comes near to just anyone who prays, or just anyone who isn’t an axe murderer. Not all roads lead to God. Scripture makes it clear that if we want to be near to God, we have to come to Him in truth. How can you know that truth?

Jesus said HE IS THE TRUTH. (John 14:6) You draw near to God through His Son. Period. Read God’s Word. You will find the absolute one and only truth by which you can enjoy a closeness with God.

God doesn’t protect just everyone, either. He protects those who love him, according to  the psalmist. Scripture talks a lot about love, and what love for God looks like. It’s not just three words, “I love God.” Love for God involves obedience, sacrifice of self, commitment, and a servant’s heart that lives love out of gratitude for what God has done. God’s protection is reserved for those who love Him, to those who have accepted what Jesus died to give, the forgiveness of sin and a glorious eternal home.

God’s blessings are directly related to our relationship with Him. Because, no matter what happens, if we live or die, if we have a brick home or a cardboard box, if we are a part of a big old family or alone, those of us who know Him have God! And those of us who know Him know it doesn’t get any better than that.

I am blessed because of my relationship with the Creator, Holy, Eternal God through His Son Jesus. I pray you can say the same.

December 11; The Danger In Gentle Breezes

Acts 25:23-28:10

I love how the experiences of people we read about in Scripture are life lessons for us today. Please don’t read the Bible merely for the information. My prayer is that you will allow the living Word of God speak to you and change you every time you open its precious pages. I’d like to share what speaks to me about Paul’s experience at sea.

Paul was a prisoner, heading to Rome for trial. The centurion in charge of Paul booked passage on a ship. There were guards on board, but so, evidently were some of Paul’s friends.

The ship landed at a place called Fair Havens after a difficult first leg of the journey. It was a dangerous time of year to be sailing, but Fair Havens was not a good spot to dock for the winter. Paul warned the centurion that there was danger ahead if they set sail.

But the centurion didn’t listen to Paul. The pilot of the ship, the one with experience sailing in all kinds of weather, the one who’d most likely traveled this way before, the assumed authority on the matter, assured the centurion they could make it to Phoenix, a great place to hold up during winter.

“Look at the calm sea, feel that gentle breeze,” he may have told the centurion. “Things are looking good for sailing if we leave now.” He may have even added, “Trust me.”

The Bible says they set sail. But it wasn’t long before the gentle breeze turned into a raging storm, and totally consumed the ship and its passengers. For days they fought a losing battle against the wind and waves.

Friends, I see a picture of sin here. Too often people, even Christians, listen to so-called authorities, and ignore what God says in His Word. Whether it’s parenting, worshiping, mental health, gender issues (the list goes on), there are people passing themselves off as authorities on any given subject, and going against what God has said in His Word. But because people, even Christians, listen to those so-called authorities, they jump into the boat. They put their faith in something or someone other than God. Their course is doomed.

People don’t normally jump into the boat while the storm is raging. They step in when the water is calm, and the breeze is gentle. They adopt one innocent sounding idea and make it their own, even if the Bible takes a different view on the subject. But there is danger in that gentle breeze.

Maybe they are confronted with temptation, but someone somewhere has said if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, it’s not that bad. One little white lie, one peek at porn, one cup of coffee with a married co-worker. It’s a gentle breeze. Besides, others wiser and more experienced than I tell me I deserve this. But there is danger in that gentle breeze.

I know you know that gentle breeze turns into a raging storm pretty quickly. And you find yourself in a sinking ship, battling something you never would have had to battle  if you’d  listened to the voice of God and stayed ashore.

Let Paul’s experience serve as a warning. There is only one authority. And He has written His wisdom down in Scripture.

Let Paul’s experience give you hope, too. Even if you are caught up in the raging sea of sin, all does not have to be lost. Just like God provided one way for the sailors and passengers to be saved from that storm, He has provided one way for each of us to survive, too. His name is Jesus.

The only way you will get out of this storm, the only way you will get out of this life alive, is through God’s provision of His Son. It’s only the cross that saves.

Don’t take my word for it. I am not an authority. But let God’s Word be the authority it is. There is no other Way, no other Truth, no other Life. And God wants you to know that for yourself.

There are those who would encourage you to feel that gentle breeze of temptation and sin. But, dear one, there is real danger in that gentle breeze.

November 7; Four Days

Mark 15:6-21; Matthew 27:15-32; Luke 23:13-32; John 18:39-19:17

It was four days from the Triumphal Entry to what we read in today’s passages. Four days from when the people had shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” to when they cried, “Crucify Him!”

Four days.

Jesus had done nothing out of the ordinary in that time. He had not committed a heinous crime during the week. But the people had listened to the lies, they got sucked into the negativity. In four days.

Sounds hard to believe that such a drastic change could occur in such a short time. But as I sit here I am reminded of times in my life when I had experienced an euphoric worship and praise of God, when I promised I would always love and obey Him, only to end up listening to Satan’s lies and negativity and commit a sin I never thought I would again.

“That’s not fair,” Satan would whisper, and feelings of resentment would pour over me.

“You deserve what she has,” and jealousy would take root.

And most of the time it didn’t take four days for that to happen. Four minutes, maybe.

Today, God is encouraging me to make my relationship with Him personal, not based on an experience, but grounded in His Word; not dependent on popular opinion, but on the Truth that is Jesus.

The lies and negativity are out there as much as they were that week in Jerusalem. May we all stand firm, to hold on to the Truth, and to resist what Satan would do to destroy our relationship with our Lord.

Because that Man we read about today is my Savior and yours. He loved us all the way to the cross. And what He did there is available to all of us who believe. A relationship with Jesus is so worth protecting!

 

 

October 30; Stand Firm

Matthew 23:37-39, 24:1-28; Mark 12:41-13:23; Luke 21:1-24

The end is near. Or at least nearer than it was the day Jesus spoke these words. But the reality is that life on planet Earth will come to an end.

Jesus wants us to be prepared, to watch out, be on guard, stand firm. Is the abomination that causes desolation already in our pulpits? False prophets will deceive some, some will turn away from the faith, the love of most will grow cold.

Don’t be one of them.

Let’s determine to stay in God’s Word, to grow, to put on the whole armor of God, and to stay true to the truth that is Jesus. “He who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Stand firm.

October 22; Beneath The Surface

Luke 17:20-18:14; John 7:1-52

I was listening to Christian radio this morning, and heard a young artist tell the backstory about a song she recently wrote. She said she felt the greatest thing about our God is how His love unites people. She assured us that God wants us to feel loved, and powerful, and worthy.

What are your thoughts? And where is the Scripture to back up your belief? Is the greatest thing about God unity among people? Does God ever in His Word tell anyone He wants them to feel worthy? What this musician said sounds Christian. But when you look beneath the surface, is it Biblical?

Her words came to mind as I read what Jesus said concerning the Pharisee and the tax collector. “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Does that sound like Jesus wants us to feel powerful and worthy?

The tax collector had bowed before God, beat his breast and cried, “God, have mercy on me a sinner.” He didn’t say, “God forgive me because I am worthy of your forgiveness.”

Later, Jesus said, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” Friend, I think that applies to more than condemning a person for tattoos and nose rings. I think it can apply to accepting or rejecting some seemingly innocent, uplifting, empowering sounding songs and teaching. They appear to be right – but are they?

Please don’t accept anything you hear – anything I say, or your pastor says, or songs on Christian radio – without looking beneath the surface. Make a right judgment according to Scripture, not the trend of the day.

Satan is really good at sounding like a Christian. So look beneath the surface.

 

 

October 16; A Little Yeast

Mark 8:11-9:1; Matthew 16:1-28; Luke 9:18-27; John 6:60-71

The first time I ever tasted pizza was at my Aunt Doris’ house in the early ’60’s. I remember standing next to her in the kitchen and watching as she opened an Appian Way Pizza box, and pulled out three bags and a tiny tin can. She opened the larger of the bags and poured its contents into a bowl. Looked like regular flour to me.

Then she opened one of the smaller bags. The contents looked like a bit more flour. A little coarser, perhaps. And it had a strange smell. She told me it was yeast. (never heard of it). She poured it on top of the flour in the bowl, and mixed it together. Then she took some water and slowly moistened the flour mixture until she could use her fingers to push and squeeze it into a ball. I remember the sticky dough all over her hands.

Next she covered the bowl with a kitchen towel, and put it on top of the pre-heating oven. Then we waited.

While we waited Aunt Doris took a log of pepperoni and cut it into thin slices. She grated some cheese, and opened the tin can of red sauce. She took out a weird round pan and coated it with a thin layer of Crisco.

Then I witnessed a miracle.

Aunt Doris took the towel off the bowl on the stove and showed me what was inside. The dough had grown into a giant blob! It had taken on a life of its own. It was magic.

Needless to say, we finished compiling the pizza on that flat greased pan, and popped it in the oven. I can only say, it was love at first bite. I still could eat pizza every day.

I thought about this today as I read God’s warning concerning yeast. We all know He wasn’t talking about pizza dough, but used the magic power of yeast to warn us about false teaching.

I have shared my heavy heart as I witness how false teaching is infiltrating the Church at what seems like break-neck speed. That’s really nothing new. Jesus was talking to people 2,000 years ago about this happening right then, too. Why does Jesus give this warning?

Because false teaching, like yeast, takes on a life of its own. It might resemble the Truth. But if allowed to mix with the Truth, it grows, it changes what was into something very different.

Please be aware. Please don’t allow Satan’s Christian-sounding lies to enter your heart or your mind. Know the Truth that is God’s Word. Don’t base an enlightenment on a verse or two, but read the Bible and keep reading it ALL.

Be on guard, Jesus tells us. Be on guard.

 

October 1; A Prayer God Loves To Answer

Matthew 3:13-17, 4:1-11, 18-22; Mark 1:9-13, 16-20; Luke 3:21-22, 4:1-13,5:1-11; John 1:29-51

Did it take much convincing for you to believe Jesus is God, and that He speaks the Truth? Maybe you aren’t convinced yet.

Two disciples of John the Baptist heard him introduce Jesus as, “the Lamb of God.” That intrigued the men, so they spent the day with Jesus, probably asking questions and listening to His teaching. They wanted to know for themselves who Jesus was.

The first thing Andrew did after spending time with Jesus was to find his brother, Simon, to tell him he’d met the Messiah. Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus. So later, when Jesus asked the brothers to follow Him, they dropped everything and followed.

Some people who say they don’t believe in Jesus have never really spent time with Him. Oh, they might read a few verses, maybe read the Bible from cover to cover. But if their heart’s desire isn’t to get to know Jesus, they won’t find themselves any closer to the Truth than before.

If you aren’t sure Jesus is who He says He is, I hope you’ll read these Scriptures with us today. But before you do, pray. Ask God to reveal the Truth through His Words. Open your heart and mind to understanding. That’s a prayer I know God loves to answer.

 

September 25; Gatekeepers

I Chronicles 9:1-34; Nehemiah 12:1-47

Do you have gatekeepers at your church? Some churches hire uniformed police to be a presence during worship services, a sad commentary on our society, but a sight that may be more common in the future.

But the gatekeepers we read about in I Chronicles weren’t that kind of protectors. They had the enormous responsibility of guarding the things of God. Someone was on duty every hour of every day, making sure the holy things were not compromised.

So who is guarding the things of God in your fellowship? I’m not talking about guarding the gold candlesticks or the stained glass windows. I’m talking about Truth, the Gospel, God’s Holy Word. Who is making sure Satan cannot gain entrance into your fellowship?

Who holds your pastors and teachers accountable for teaching according to Scripture? Who address sin in a scriptural fashion, holding your members accountable for their actions?

All of us should be gatekeepers. We need to be protecting the things of God as earnestly as the gatekeepers we read about in I Chronicles. We possess a priceless treasure – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s protect it with our lives.

August 12; Where Do You Live?

Ezekiel 10-13

I thought of what Jesus said in Matthew 7 as I read more of Ezekiel’s vision this morning. God is telling Ezekiel that the Jews were about to face judgment for the sins they’d been committing. The Jews were a religious people. But the religion they were following was an affront to God.

False prophets had lulled them into a stupor, a false sense of security. They seemed to have believed God was just blowing smoke. He’d talked about punishing them for years, and nothing happened yet. They were still free to live like they lived, so there was a message of peace in the land.

I’m ok. You’re ok.

But even though they worshiped in the temple, and identified themselves as God’s chosen people, they were about to find out God is serious about His judgment for disobedience. His patience is not weakness. God told them they were living behind a flimsy whitewashed wall that was about to come falling down upon them.

Jesus told the parable of two men, one wise and one foolish. The wise man, He said, built a house on the strong foundation of the Word of God, and nothing could shake it. The foolish man, however, built his house on sinking sand, and like the flimsy wall in Ezekiel, it collapsed when the winds began to blow.

Last week I took a ten day challenge to read only the Bible, and to let God be the only commentary I considered. I have loved it!

Today I am reminded that God’s Word is the strongest foundation I can build my life upon. Not religion. Not theology. Not opinion. And certainly not myself. There are people out there preaching peace when there is no peace, whole denominations tweaking God’s Word to be politically correct and tolerant. There are some satisfied with religion, and who go through the motions of worship faithfully.

But I’m afraid they are living behind flimsy walls.

So my question for us today is, where are we living? Are we living on lives built on the sure foundation of Jesus? Are we deeply grounded in the Words God Himself breathed into existence? Can our lives withstand the storms of life because our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness?

Or are we hiding behind religion, church attendance, love, peace, good deeds? Those sound like flimsy walls on sinking sand to me.

So I’ll ask again. Where do you live?

July 24; What You Believe About God

Zephaniah 1-3; 2 Chronicles 34:4-7; Jeremiah 1:1-19

Last night our Bible study centered around the creation account in Genesis 1. What you believe about this first chapter in the Bible will determine what you believe about God. It’s that important. Do you believe Him or not? Did He speak the universe, our world into existence, or did He give us some clues in His Word, expecting us to figure out the truth?

Our teacher also discussed the subtle, and the overt attacks on the only thing created in God’s image: you! Satan hates God, and in turn, anything that reminds Him of God. And you, my friend, are the image of God staring Satan in the face. That snake would love nothing more than to take you down with him.

You, and your children. Don’t think your kids aren’t under attack. Whether it’s the friendly guide at the museum during the class outing who mentions in passing that the earth is millions of years old, as though that were fact, or the reading teacher who assigns “A Tale of Two Daddies: (which Goodreads touts as “sweet, simple, charismatic, and realistic… a kid-friendly book…), or a cartoon on TV that portrays characters as witches, gay, disobedient, smarter than the grown-up, all of which are attacks on the image of God. Please don’t blow off the seriousness of the attacks. Kids are learning.

Now, we Christians can wring our hands and worry about the direction this world is going. Or we can do what God has us here to do: speak up! It’s not enough to live a good life, to love everybody (which in our world too often implies acceptance, tolerance, live-and-let-live).

It’s not enough to give food to the hungry and expect them to figure out simply from your act of kindness that Jesus died to save them. Friend, you’d better be talking about the Truth. How will they know unless they are told? (Romans 10:14)

This world is on a downhill spiral. The forces of evil will tell you that’s a good thing, that we’ve become enlightened, freed from the constraints of religion, the masters of our own universes, powerful, worthy, good. But if you believe God, you can’t believe the evil.

God tells us there will be hell to pay:

I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdom and to pour out my wrath on them – all my fierce anger. the whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger. (3:8b)

God tells us His judgment is coming. But no one has to die. If you believe the Bible, you know Jesus already did that. We need only to repent of sin, and accept His forgiveness. We might know that, but our loved ones need to know that, too. They need to be told. And maybe more than once.

Here is what is important: God has told us this world is not going to last forever. Jesus is coming back, and life as we know it will end. For those who don’t know Him it will be worse than anything Hollywood can put on a screen.

However, concerning those who believe God, who are His children through the blood of Jesus, He says:

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (3:16-17)

Don’t you want to experience that instead of the outpouring of God’s wrath? Don’t you want that for your children, too? Look around, there are people you love, people whom God loves, who need to hear the truth.

What do you believe about God? What you believe about God has everything to do with what you are going to do today.