Tag Archives: Truth

The Hope Of All The World

Matthew 12:15-21

Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah to the men who were plotting to kill Him. They were angry because He had healed a man on the Sabbath.

He healed a man.

But it was the Sabbath, a day they had put so many restrictions on, believing they were following God’s Law and then some. And the law was much more important than the healed man. Their idea of the law blinded them from really seeing the miracle.

It’s ironic that they were so concerned about following God’s Law when they were looking at the Author. Jesus wanted them to know that. He wanted them to know He was their long-awaited Messiah.

“I am the beloved Son of God. His Spirit is in me. I haven’t come shouting or fighting or crushing the weak. I bring justice to the nations.”

The fact is, they wanted Him dead because He healed a man on the Sabbath. They didn’t just want Him punished, excommunicated, or simply stopped from continuing His ministry. They wanted Him dead. And Jesus wanted them to recognize who it was they wanted to kill.

I say all of that to point you to verse 21.

And his name will be the hope of all the world.

Our world seems so intent on looking everywhere except to Jesus for hope. Yet here He is!

Some reject Him because He doesn’t fit into their idea of what they think He should look like. Some reject Him because they don’t like His message. Many look to the government, or religion, autonomy, even good deeds to find their hope.

If our civilization has any hope it won’t be because we tolerate differences or are accepting of every thought or belief out there. It won’t be because everyone’s bank accounts have exactly the same balance as everyone else’s. It won’t be because we have a preconceived notion of how things ought to be, like the Pharisees had in Jesus’ day.

Isaiah knew, and Jesus reinforced the truth that Jesus is our only hope.

Jesus is the hope of all the world.

Ya Do What Ya Gotta Do

Esther 1

I guess I don’t blame Vashti for not wanting to parade around in front of a room full of men who’d been drinking excessively for a whole week. Regardless of her reasoning, she had to pay the consequences for disobeying an edict from the king.

Should she have gone? It would have saved her a lot of trouble, and she would have been able to keep her crown. Aren’t there times when “ya do what ya gotta do,” whether you like it or not?

That’s a question I’m afraid we all need to be making these days. And it’s getting harder to answer that question by the minute.

I know of a school district that has told teachers they are not allowed to teach pronouns, that they must use the non/gender pronouns when they speak, that they have to honor a parents decision to let their children “identify” as a gender not given to them by God. And, they must teach all children that doing that should be accepted and considered normal.

There is a movement to normalize “furries.” Are you aware? People (including children) who pretend to identify as an animal. They want people, including teachers, to treat them as the animal they are pretending to be.

Teachers have received an edict from the powers that be, like Vashti received hers from the king. Now what? Do you do what you have to do, and teach what you’re told? Or do you do what you have to do, and resign?

Like I said, it’s getting harder every day.

What if the edict comes from your child? “I’m gay. Accept it.”

Or from your church? The Methodist denomination is facing some hard decisions, as is the SBC. Do you go progressive? Do you stand firm?

We don’t often think about what it took for Vashti to refuse the king’s order. But I think there might be a lesson there for us today.

May we all know when it’s time to say, “No.” And may God give us the courage to say it, then do what we gotta do about it.

God’s Word Written To You

Jeremiah 42

The people of Israel asked God what they should do, and they promised to do whatever God said. So God gave them His message – and they rejected it.

He had told them to “stay where you are and I will save you. Don’t go to Egypt because there is death waiting for you there. No matter how scary it is right now, trust Me. Stay put.”

When they received God’s Words, they called it lies. Their plan made more sense to them. So they went to Egypt. And they died.

It’s no different today. So many people who grew up going to Bible believing, rock solid churches, hearing, memorizing, and believing God’s Word begin to listen to other voices, then come to the conclusion that God’s Word is a lie. Their ideas make more sense to them, and the Holy Bible is viewed as just another religious document among many.

Others hear God’s Word for the first time, and because it goes against every other doctrine out there, they come to the conclusion that it’s a lie. Or that if it works for you that’s great, but it doesn’t have to work for me.

Folks, God’s Word we know as the Bible are the words of the Creator God, Holy, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, eternal, King of the universe, and the only one whose words are 100% true. To hear them, then reject them isn’t ok.

That’s not merely my opinion. It’s not even a matter of what I believe to be true. It’s a fact. It’s true according to the God who created you. For you to reject it, is foolishness at best, and an eternal death sentence at worst – according to God’s Word.

Read the Bible and let God speak to you about His heart. Hear Him tell you what He requires and know He’s serious about the consequences of disobedience. Let Him tell you what He’s done to save you, and hear His invitation to come to Him. Shut out all the other voices that would have you question God’s Word. And open your heart, your mind, and your ears to His voice.

God inspired men thousands of years ago to write you a love letter, an instruction manual, a message from his heart to yours. Read it for yourself. Don’t reject it. It’s the only truth that will matter in the end, because it’s the only truth.

Hard Hearted and Hard Headed

Ezekiel 1-2

I read something in Ezekiel’s vision I want for myself and for the Church in 2022. First of all, the prophet felt the hand of the Lord take hold of him (1:3). Makes me wonder if we’ve placed ourselves in a position to feel the same.

Oh, I read the Bible every day. I teach Sunday School and Good News Clubs. The church emphasizes a worship experience and fun programs. But does God take hold of us as a result of our own efforts? Ezekiel was in exile by a river when God got hold of him.

Maybe I, maybe we ought to be still, and quiet our hearts in order for God to take hold of us. Maybe our busy-ness is preventing us from knowing what it’s like to feel the hand of God on our lives.

The second thing I read that I pray for myself and the Church is found in 2:8-9. God made Ezekiel hard hearted and obstinate. He gave him a hard head so that the prophet would not be afraid to speak the truth.

Should we be praying God will harden our hearts, too? Yes. When it comes to sin – yes! When it comes to compromising the truth or fearing what might happen if we actually stood firm – yes!

God told Ezekiel to eat the scroll, to let God’s words sink deep into his heart, to listen to God’s words carefully for himself – then get out there and tell the people: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says!”

Say it without apology or fear. And keep saying it, whether they listen or not.

So today, I’m praying for hard hearts, uncompromising spirits in you and me. I’m praying for hard headed Christians with a mission to speak the truth no matter what.

Let’s do this!

Where Does It Lead?

Jeremiah 2

We who have submitted to God and accepted His grace at the foot of the cross are no longer slaves to sin. God broke the yoke that oppressed us. (vs 20a). We are forgiven and free to serve and worship the God we love, because of the blood of Jesus.

Yet we see throughout the Bible examples of God’s people who try to worship God and worship idols at the same time. We see them making compromises, like not tearing down the Asherah poles and deciding to use those to worship God. Seems harmless enough. But it wasn’t harmless. No compromise is.

And compromises (God calls sin) are judged.

I think God might have something to say to His 21st Century people today. Are we compromising ourselves into judgment?

“We can bring Bethel or Hillsong praise music into our sanctuaries, and not agree with their theology.”

“We can embrace homosexuals, and welcome them into our fellowships without necessarily condoning homosexuality.”

“We can rewrite the Bible to eliminate the gender specific wording of the original, and still call it God’s Word.”

We can keep the Asherah poles, and hold our worship services there. We can align with the enemy, and still call on God to help us.

In order to make a compromise, you must turn (even slightly) away from that which is right and true. In the spiritual sense, a compromise is an ever so tiny step away from the holiness of our God.

Where does that lead?

What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt, and your covenants with Assyria? What good to you are the streams of the Nile or the waters of the Euphrates River? Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken! (verses 18-19)

Do You Worship Idols?

Isaiah 44

Are wood and molded metal the only kinds of idols out there? I don’t know anyone who has a statue they worship in their home. But I know many people (me included at times) who have fashioned gods to our own liking, and worship them.

Some worship self, others nature, the stars and moon. Some worship ancestors, some make gods out of relationship, careers, pubic figures, even their automobiles! There are those who twist the truth about Jesus to be loving without being holy, to be forgiving without being the righteous Judge, to being one of many ways to the Father, and accepting of all people everywhere without the need for repentance.

Most people would say they don’t worship idols. But their actions and priorities say something quite different. I know God is speaking through Isaiah about the wooden statues people were worshiping at that time. But I believe Scripture always has something to say to us as well whenever we read it.

I like how the NLT says so clearly what God would say to those who put anything or anyone above our devotion to Him:

How foolish are those who manufacture idols. These prized objects are really worthless. (vs 9)

Who but a fool would make his own god – an idol that cannot help him one bit! (vs 10)

Such stupidity and ignorance! Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think. (vs 18)

The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie? (vs 20)

I pray none of those verses describe you. But I think God would have us all do an idol-check in our hearts. Hear God say repeatedly:

I am the Lord and there is no other. (vs 6b)

I, the Lord, speak only what is true and declare only what is right. vs 19)

Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. (vs 22)

I hope you’ll read this chapter in God’s Word and see the spiritual parallel that is there. Maybe it’s time we quit telling ourselves that God is just one of many, that His Word is outdated, not necessarily true for everyone. Maybe it’s time that we truly submitted to the Creator God because…

What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. vs 9a)

Another Jesus

The King of Assyria sent his thugs to threaten the children of Israel, to bully them into surrendering. They pointed out that Assyria had successfully defeated the nations around them, that none of their gods we’re able to saved them from the mighty Assyrian army, and that the writing was on the wall. Israel was next.

Surrender or die.

Then these representatives of the Assyrian king said something that has me thinking today:

What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord Himself told us, “Attack this land and destroy it.”

One of two things could be true about that. Either God is using Assyria to punish Israel for their sin, and indeed instructed the enemy to be His judgment on the Jews, or the men representing the Assyrian king were lying.

Today, Satan is to us what the Assyrian King was to Israel in this portion of Scripture. He is the one threatening to destroy God’s people, and bullying us into submission. And he is using the Name of God to do it.

Bethel names the name of God. Benny Hinn names the name of God. Joel Osteen calls himself a Christian minister. I could go on. And so could you.

The question is, are we going to stand with God according to His inspired written Word, or are we going to be bullied into surrendering to Satan?

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse. (Galatians 1:8)

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

Guard your heart, dear one. Know what Scripture has to say so that you can recognize Satan’s lies. Then stand firm. Because the truth is, there isn’t another Jesus. There is only the One who is revealed in the pages of the Bible. If anyone says they have had a special revelation concerning Jesus… they are lying

There is only one true Gospel. There is only one true Jesus.

Do not be deceived.

Living As I Should

Psalm 119

May this psalm be my prayer. And may these verses describe my life:

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in His paths.

You have charged us to keep your commandments faithfully. Oh that my actions would consistently reflect your decree! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.

As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me. (Verses 1-8, emphasis mine)

Praising the Judge

Psalm 98

For the first 9 1/2 verses the psalmist tells us to sing to the Lord, shout to the Lord, break out in praise to the Lord. Our victorious God has revealed His righteousness to every nation! He remembered His promises to love and be faithful to His people. Praise Him!

Living after the cross, we know God revealed Himself to the world when He became a human, and lived on this earth as a physical man. Jesus won the ultimate victory over death, Satan, and sin when he died on the cross and three days later came alive again. He saved the world.

Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King! (Vs 6b)

But here is why the psalmist tells all creation that God is worthy of our praise:

For the Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice and the nations with fairness. (Vs 9)

Wait! Praise God for the coming judgment? Aren’t there psalms that tell us to praise Him for His goodness, faithfulness, grace, presence…?

Of course! He is all that and more, and deserves our praise. But these verses tell us to praise Him for the coming judgment as well.

Does standing before a judge in a court of law seem like something to be glad about? I had to stop and consider this for a while.

When I finished my course work in the School Counseling graduate program, I was required to take a comprehensive examination. It was a four or five hour test that would be the deciding factor whether or not I’d receive my graduate degree, and be qualified to be a school counselor. My future depended on my passing that test.

A few of us grad students got together periodically to study, and quiz each other on the different parts of the upcoming exam. We took practice tests, and discussed our answers.

I myself, would spend hours and hours on the Saturdays leading up to the test, pulling out every memorization technique I could think of. I actually started looking forward to the test date.

For one, I knew that I would receive my degree if I passed. That is what I had been working toward for a couple of years. Passing the test would mean no more evening classes to take after teaching school all day, no more papers to write, no more costly graduate fees.

That test marked the end of hard work, and the beginning of enjoying the benefits of the work. I was so ready to have it over.

On the morning of the test I remember standing in the shower and praying that God would help me recall what I had learned. Such a peace came over me I can only explain as from God. In fact, I felt so prepared, I almost dared the test-makers to come up with a question I couldn’t answer. (They actually did come up with one or two. 🙂 )

So I took the test that would judge my preparedness to be a school counselor. After several hours, I turned in my test, and walked away somewhat elated. I was pretty sure I had passed, and I did pass!

So why would God bring that to mind today as I considered the psalmist’s direction to praise God because He will come to earth to judge the world? Here are my thoughts:

The first is that we can know with certainty that God will judge the earth with justice and fairness. The truth is, He has been very upfront with His requirements.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. (John 3:3)

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

So the requirements the Judge will consider are whether or not we have accepted His grace and forgiveness through the blood of His Son Jesus. We all will be judged by the exact same standard. It will have nothing to do with how good or how bad we’ve been. Only whether or not we’ve received what Jesus died to give us. That’s fair.

The second thing I thought is, Jesus did the work. When my classmates and I were studying for our test, some of us put in the work before our sessions, others not so much. So when we actually took the test, we were judged on what we had put into it. As we should have been.

But if God operated on the same scale, none of us would pass the test. The standard for passing His test is:

For it is written “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

Are you a good person? Not good enough. Do you go to church? Not good enough. Do you abstain from certain sins? Not good enough. It’s not good enough to simply read your Bible, or stay faithful to your spouse. Holy is holy, without sin. And the Bible tells us:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

You have sinned. And that renders you unholy, falling short of God’s standard. And falling short of God’s standard results in:

The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me want to praise God for the upcoming judgment. Who can stand before a holy God and expect to hear, ”Not guilty,” if all of us are guilty? No one!

That’s why Jesus did the work. That’s why He took on our sin and paid the death sentence we earned by telling a lie, taking something that doesn’t belong to us, thinking bad thoughts, or disobeying our parents. You see, because He paid my debt, I have no fear of standing before a Holy Judge who will judge with justice and fairness.

I did what He told me to do. I asked Jesus to forgive me, I repented of the sin that sent Him to the cross. I have been born again, not of flesh but of spirit. I wear His righteousness, His holiness, because I have none of my own.

The rest of Romans 6:23 is:

but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So yes. I can look forward to judgment day. It marks the end of all the struggles and hardships living in this world affords. It marks the beginning of an eternity, reaping the benefits of having Jesus pass the test on my behalf.

So, dear one, continue to praise God for all His benefits, His blessings, your health, your comfort, your family and friends, and on and on and on. Praise the One who deserves your praise.

And praise Him for the fact that when He judges the world, when He judges you on that day, there will be no surprises. One person won’t be judged more easily or more harshly for the same sin you’ve committed. You won’t fall short because you only did 9,999 good deeds, and someone else will get a free pass because he did 10,000 good deeds. No one will barely make it into heaven while someone else almost makes it there.

God is fair. God is just. God will judge each of us by the standard He has laid out so clearly in His Word. I look forward to judgement day. I hope you can say the same. I hope that because we both have been born again, cleansed and made holy by Jesus, we can praise the Judge together now and for eternity!

How Free Are We?

Proverbs 31

We will hear the word “freedom” a lot today, because today we celebrate the fact that more than 200 years ago, a group of people broke from the tyranny of an English king, and with thoughtful, prayerful consideration, implemented checks and balances to construct the republic we know as the United States of America. It is, in its truest sense, the absolute best form of government in the world.

From the very beginning, our founders recognized our inalienable rights, and insured our freedom from tyrannical rule. They not only set us free from England, they gave us the tools to keep us free from future tyrants.

It’s ridiculous for anyone to think that document, which ensures our freedoms in 2022, is outdated or irrelevant to modern society (a lie perpetuated by would-be tyrants).

How free are we? Not as free as we were when I was young. Not even as free as we were ten years ago. In fact, there are those who believe that unless you align yourself with the left, or are “woke,” you should have no rights, no freedom to speak your mind or take actions in support of your right to live free. We are looking in the face of tyranny.

How free are we? God has given us the freedom to choose. If we choose Him according to Scripture, we are set free from the judgment our sin deserves. We are free to live lives directed and protected by God Himself.

To the people who believed in him, Jesus 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 9:31-32)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:7)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

If we choose, however, to reject God, we give up our freedom and become slaves to sin.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. (John 8:34)

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)

I believe what we are seeing in the US is the result of sin, which leads to the eroding of freedom according to Scripture. We should not be surprised, considering the blatant sin around us, the unashamed depravity thrown in our faces at every turn. Sin is the opposite of freedom, no matter what we are being told.

When our freedom is gone, it won’t be just because of politics, but because of the sinful hearts of politicians. It won’t only be because of non-Christians, but because of weak, lazy, self-centered Christians who are unrepentant themselves.

I wonder what our nation would look like if the true Church in America lived like a Proverbs 31 wife of our Heavenly Husband. I wonder how free we would be if we, as God’s people, called by His name, would humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways. Because God promises in that case to hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land. (see 2 Chronicles 7:14)

How free are we? We are as free as unrepentant sin affords.