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Truth is... (part 2)

“It’s time for bed.”
“But it’s still light outside.”
 
“Your shoes are on the wrong feet.”
“I don't think so.”
 
“He has more pretzels than me.”
“Each of you have the same amount.” 

My children doubt me all the time. It frustrates me more than I care to admit. Why can’t they just trust my words? I’m so glad God isn’t like that with us.
 
The more I study the gospels, the more I appreciate the humanness of the disciples. I think in my head I always believed that they dropped their nets and followed him blindly – just always believing what Jesus said was true and never struggling to process what they witnessed every day for three years. As I read and studied more, I began to realize that these twelve men who witnessed Jesus heal the sick, give sight to blind, raise the dead and take a meager meal and multiply it to feed 5,000 still struggled to grasp who Jesus was. They continually questioned who He really was even to the very end. Most of the gospels only give a quick view of Jesus’ last evening with the disciples, but John dedicated five chapters to these last hours.
 
I can’t imagine how hard that night must have been for Jesus, knowing everything He was about to face. Yet, He was intentional to explain again to His disciples what was about to happen and give final instructions. Last week, I explored the first two elements of God that the Bible says are truth (To read part 1, click here). This week, let's look at the other two.

3. Jesus is Truth
 
As Jesus and the disciples are sharing the Passover meal, Jesus begins to tell the disciples that He is going away. He has already washed their feet, predicted Judas’ betrayal and sent him out and predicted Peter’s denial (John 13). Then he says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1)
 
“Thomas said to him, “’Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:5-6)
 
Plain and simple. All the messages Jesus preached, the words He spoke to His disciples, it all boils done to one simple truth: Jesus is the way. Jesus is the truth. Jesus is the life. The Greek Word for “truth” means “I am he in whom the truth is summed up and impersonated.”* I just love that! All truth is found in Jesus. He is the sum of all truth!
 
But Phillip wasn’t done. In the next verse he tells Jesus “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” (v 8, NIV) I wonder if Jesus rolled his eyes or sighed at Phillip.
 
Even at the end, the disciples are still asking questions. It’s a lot to grasp. I love that we have a God who is patient with our human minds. We try to explain, rationalize and answer, but He answers all our questions about who Jesus is one verse: the way, the truth, and the life.
 
Jesus was going away though, and the disciples were scared. I honestly would be too if I had spent three years walking alongside Jesus. So He promised the fourth element of truth:
 
4. The Holy Spirit is Truth
 
Four times in these five chapters, Jesus tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit is coming. He calls the Holy Spirit two different names repeatedly in these instances: Helper and Spirit of Truth.

  1. Helper – This word is used in John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26 & 16:7. The definition of the Greek Word used here gives the Holy Spirit two purposes* as our helper or advocate:
    1. Lead to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth
    2. Give them divine strength needed to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom
  2. The Spirit of Truth – Jesus used this phrase three times in John 14:1, 15:26 & 16:13 explaining five jobs of the Holy Spirit in our lives:
    1. He dwells in us (John 14:17)
    2. Teach us (John 14:26)
    3. Bring His teaching to mind (i.e. – help us remember what we learned; John 14:26)
    4. Bear witness of Jesus (John 15:26)
    5. Guide us in Truth – (John 16:13) “The truth, as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man, opposed alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews and to the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians.”*

When we accept Jesus as truth, the way and our Savior, we get this amazing gift in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit does so much to help us. It’s why we don’t have to be intimidated when opening our Bibles. There is so much truth in those pages and worth our time studying.
 
Will you join us in Open Your Bible? We already have over 80 women who will be gathering next week to study God’s Truth. I can’t wait to see what God begins in the hearts of our women as we root ourselves in Truth. Click Here for more information or to register.

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*Source: Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

 

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Don't Give Up

Above us and around us – and sometimes even inside of us – thunderstorms are building.

Sometimes these storms may come from behind the closed doors of your doctor’s office, or on the other end of the phone line…or from your child with special needs.

I’ve spent almost 16-years years as a parent to a child with special needs. More years than some of you. Not nearly as many as others who are reading this.

Being a parent on the special needs journey is proving true the words of Jesus that begin:
“In this world you will have trouble …” (Jn.16:33)

Will.

Not “might.”

Will.

Reading those words, you might be inclined to want to keep your doors locked, take your phone off the hook, and pull the covers up over your head in order to avoid the “trouble” that special needs will bring to your doorstep.

I’ve wanted to do that too.

But like you…I know that I cannot.

By embracing our life’s-journey we find ourselves drafted into a battle:
• A battle to try and continue to grow as a human being.
• A battle to keep our marriage from becoming too stressed.
• A battle to find the time to do ALL the things that need to get done…and that’s just today’s things.

And battles are exhausting—especially long ones. That’s why you’re often weary.

Most soldiers who experience the fierceness of combat want to get out of it.

That’s why you feel urges to escape or surrender. That’s why there are times you’re tempted to give up.

But don’t give up.

Don’t give up when you feel that deep soul weariness from long battles with persistent weaknesses.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

Don’t give up when your long prayed-for prayers have not yet been answered.

“And he told them [the parable of the persistent widow] to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1).

Don’t give up when the fragmenting effect of multiple pressures seems relentless.

“But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5).

Don’t give up when the field the Lord has assigned you to is hard and the harvest does not look promising:

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Don’t give up when waiting on God seems endless.

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31)

Don’t…give…up.

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Gathered With Friends At Home

I grew up attending church…a lot! At least three – and sometimes four – times a week I was with my family at our little church in Sebring, Florida. Sunday mornings. Sunday nights. Wednesday nights. And oftentimes for a special gathering or service project on a Saturday. Needless to say, I sang a lot of songs and heard a lot of sermons in my early years.

But despite all of that, I finished my freshmen year of high school not yet having opened my heart to Jesus.

In the summer before my sophomore year, a college student asked my parents if he could start a Bible Study in my home on Thursday nights. (For those keeping score, that would be a 5th experience of church each week for my family.) Of course, my parents agreed and a group of high school students was formed in the living room of my childhood home.

I’m not sure quite how to explain it, but something began to happen in those first few weeks that we gathered. A few high school athletes were there. So too were members of one of the local alternative rock band (you know the type). They were packed onto the love seat or scattered across the living room floor. Though there was a “leader” each week, it felt more like we were on a journey together; a journey to discover Jesus and learn what he had to say to a bunch of teenagers in a small town.

Somewhere over the course of that summer, things began to make sense for me. I came across a verse in the book of John where Jesus states, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV). I knew then and there that it was the kind of life I wanted. And so I yielded my life to Jesus Christ.

Before school was to start back up that fall, I had not only given my life to the Lord, but had made a commitment to full-time vocational ministry. After logging countless hours beneath the steeple,

God found me in a place I never would have imagined … gathered with friends in my home.

Pastor Chris

 

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Truth Is...

I loved math in school. I know – weird, but I always did so much better in math than English. In English, there was so much that was subjective, but in math, the answers were always concrete. The rules didn’t change (except for some crazy high level math, but we won’t go into that). 2+2=4. Always. The square root of 49 is 7. Always.

Truth is the same way. It’s not relative. It’s not subjective. It’s concrete. It doesn’t change. Even though, I didn’t always love English, I do love a good definition. The definition of truth is “the quality or state of being true; that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.” The problem with living in a “post-truth” society that has deemed the truth irrelevant is this: what is true is still true – whether you believe it or not. In other words, truth doesn’t depend on your belief to be true. Like I shared last week, it’s why we must ground ourselves so deeply in truth that we can spot the fake a mile away. So what is truth? I will be diving into the Truth of who God is every week this year, first focusing on truth itself.

There are four elements of God that the Bible says are truth:

  1. God
  2. God’s Word
  3. Jesus
  4. Holy Spirit

I’ll focus on the first two this week.

1. God is Truth

Jeremiah 10:10 says it plainly: “But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King.” In the New Testament, there are two Greek words for truth. They are related, but no one spoke more on truth than John. In fact, John referenced one of the Greek words 23 of the 28 times it was used in the New Testament and the other 13 out of 26 times.

John 3:33 “Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.”

John 7:28 “So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, ‘You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know.’”

John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

1 John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (emphasis mine)

The Greek Word used for true in the latter three verses means “opposite of what is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary, simulated or pretend.” You can’t really explain it any better. What is the opposite of fictitious? Genuine. What is the opposite of counterfeit? Factual. What is the opposite of imaginary? Real. Our God is genuine, factual, real, truth. If God is true, that leads us to the second element that is true:

2. God’s Word is Truth

God’s Word is powerful, and truthfully, I could never even come close to discussing all there is on the truth of God’s Word. There are numerous verses that claim the truth of God’s word and His law. Here are two of my favorites:

Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” (NIV)

Psalm 119:142 “Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.”

But truth of God’s Word accomplishes something incredibly important in our lives according to John 17:17 - “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” The definition of sanctify is “to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate; to purify or free from sin” God’s Word makes us more like Him and less like the world, which makes His Word REALLY important.

I’ll admit: I haven’t always loved God’s Word, at least not in the way that I should. I haven’t always craved to read it and study it and let it change me. But then I did the Open Your Bible study. It made me fall in love with God’s Word in a whole new way, even as a “seasoned” believer.

This study was pivotal in my life, and I believe it can be in yours as well. Will you join us? Click here for more information or to register.

Also, want to stay up to date on all the happenings with Women's Ministry? Click here to sign up to receive our weekly emails.

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You Are More Than Your Failures

To be honest, there are many days when I have no idea how I'm going to make it until the end of the week.

For my boys on the autism spectrum, hearing, listening, following directions, and (oh, let me just say it) compliance with others is like pulling teeth. (*Cringe*).  As a parent, it makes for some fairly challenging days.

The constant demands, ongoing needs, and their challenging behaviors can be emotionally draining and physically exhausting.  I have to confess that sometimes the sound of their approaching footsteps makes me want to hide in a closet; to be somewhere else, far away.  

These are the days when I’d describe myself as a failure.  

If I asked you to describe yourself, what would you say?

Would you tell me your job title or refer to your relationships – husband, wife, son, daughter, friend? Would you talk about your successes and the things you've accomplished?  Or would describing yourself focus on your failures and the goals you've never achieved? All of these things are parts of who you are...but you are more than what you've done or haven't done.

You are a human being who is loved by God. He loves you not because of what you've done with your life...or haven't done.  He loves you because He created you in His image.  

Take a minute to think about that – God loves you, and not because of what you do…or fail to do.

He loves you for who you are and will never leave you because of anything you’ve done. Isn’t that just the kind of love you’ve always dreamed about?

You might not think of yourself as exceptional, but you are.

You are a hand-crafted original. Ps.139:14

You are a masterpiece. Eph.2:10

You are the apple of His eye. Zech.2:8

God created you on purpose, no accidents of fate or chance. 

God created you and He is interested in the details of your life.

The Bible tells us that Gods knows each of us better than we know ourselves – He even knows how many hairs are on your head! (Matthew 10:30)

It’s pretty incredible to think about it.  The same God who created the stars and turns the colors of the leaves in fall, created you. God created you to have a relationship with Him.

You are His masterpiece and He loves you…even when you’re feeling like a failure.

Take some time today to write down Psalm 139:13-14 on a piece of paper or a 3X5 card.  Then place it where you can see it every day.  Let the truth of God's Word sink in, take root, and mold your self-image.

God bless,

Mike

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