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Archive for the ‘truth’ Category

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

I have always been impressed with the Gospel of John’s opening words.  It seems to reach a peak when John speaks of the Word becoming flesh.  In other words, Jesus takes on human form for the sake of salvation and redemption.

Incarnated godliness in human form.  Total holiness coexisting with total humanity.  All in the same place and at the same time is wrapped up in the same oneness.

I marvel at such a majestic maneuver on the Lord’s part.  Since He is the Almighty, we know He could have spoke and it would have been done.  Since He is the Creator, He could have created a new breed and done away with sinful man just to start over again.

No but He decided to go out of His way for us.  He decided to become like us so that we might have eternal life and life out this earthly life like Him.  He became flesh.  He took on the form of a man.

He became flesh for us and our sakes, our salvation.

Read John 1:1-17.

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Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone; but still he endeavored

to struggle to that side of the slough that was farthest from his own house, and next to the wicket-gate;

the which he did, but could not get out because of the burden that was upon his back: but I beheld
in my dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked him what he did there.
. . .  Fear followed me so hard that I fled the next way, and fell in.
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Bunyan’s protagonist is aptly named Christian.  He struggles with which way to go and who to listen to as he searches his way through life.  That may sound familiar to many of us as Christians.  We have spent some time trying to find our own way and the help of others have sometimes led us astray.  That appears to be nothing new.

Pilgrim’s Progress is a book full of symbolism.  Yet, it is a tale that should resonate with most of us.  It should remind us of our constant struggle to stay on the right path.  Through this christian classic, we should remember that life is full of dangers ahead and just around the bend.  It may not simply be the things that we encounter upon the road itself.  It may be the danger of the very people who cross our path along the way.  We may do well to not listen to some of the folks who seem to know so much and cause us so much trouble as we follow their lead.

Paul wrote it this way: “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NIV).  Don’t simply look into what people say and take it as gospel.  The Bible warns us of false teachers and their twisting of the Word of God for their own benefit and gain.  Learn to discern the truth based upon your understanding of the Word and the urging of the Holy Spirit. 

Even in his letters from prison, Paul is careful to state: It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains” (Philippians 1:15-17, NIV).  Jude urged the believer to “contend for the faith,” while John shared that we should imitate and do “what is good.” We cannot spend a lot of time following behind this manipulators and workers of evil.  We have to focus on the good that comes from God that produces love and peace, even joy and forgiveness.  If we do as He has said for us to do, we will uphold the truth that comes from Him and he will destroy that which defies His Word.

Be careful to hold onto the Word of God as truth.  Otherwise, when you least expect it, you will find danger ahead.

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For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. – Luke 12:12 (KJV)

The Holy Spirit has a serious job to do.  Jesus explained that to His disciples right before He departed this earth.  Many theologians have studied and researched about the Spirit.  Yet, we still have some trouble with the whole concept of the Holy Spirit.

Realize the Holy Spirit’s power and work.  The Holy Spirit teaches and takes us to task.  He is the Comforter.  He is the Helper.  He reminds us of what the Father has commanded of us and what Jesus has provided for us.

Let the Holy Spirit:

  • Work on you like the power He has to exhibit as part of the Godhead.
  • Work in you through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit baptized within you at the point of belief.
  • Work through you in a powerful way that allows others to see God at work through your good works.

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 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. – Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)

The Great Commission gives us the disciple-making formula.  We have been referencing it for years.  We have used it for our mantra in evangelizing the entire world, putting much of our focus on the going and baptizing with regards to all nations and unto the end of the world. 

What about the teaching part?

. . . and teach all nations. . .
. . . Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. . .

Our discipleship process should make a difference.  It should make a difference in the people who are discipled by us.  It should make a difference in them as they become fishers of men.  It should make a difference in them to the point where they make a difference in the world around them.  We, as the body of Christ, are to develop difference makers.

Get ideas and insights on how to develop difference makers:
We need today’s Christian to be able to sort through the muck and the mire.  We need Christians who will know what is truth and what is false, calling out the false prophets and standing for the truth.  We need Christians who are not blinded by the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, MTV and other fantasies.  We need people who will stand upright as the world goes astray, working in this ministry of reconciliation.  We need Christians to serve as Christ’s army.
Read the likes of J.C. Ryle, Francis Chan, Oswald Chambers, Watchman Nee, William Wilberforce, and William Carey.  Try to get a hold of the works of Hudson Taylor, Richard Allen, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Al Sharpton.  Look into men like William Tyndale, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and John Bunyan.  Let the words of these men sink into your heart, mind and soul.  See how they made a difference.  See how others taught and trained them.  See how you can develop others to make a difference.

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The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. – Colossians 1:15 (NIV)

Jesus is the only the begotten Son of God the Father.  He has an earthly birth to a virgin mother through the power of the Spirit of God.  Some don’t teach about Jesus being born to a virgin.  Some do not teach Jesus as being God and human, divine and flesh.  Theologically, that takes some real faith and belief.

Our perspective on Jesus is built up by the witness of the Word of God.  The Bible tells us about Jesus.  The Bible teaches us about Jesus.  The sacred biblical text asserts the divinity and deity of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One.  If we trust and believe the Bible as truth, then we must accept who the Bible says Jesus is and not any other source, even those written by Christian theologians and others.

Paul wrote of Jesus being the image of God who man has not seen.  He is supported in the Scriptures by the words of John in both the Gospel of John and in John’s first epistle to the saints.  Jesus came and offered us Immanuel, “God among (with) us.” As John stated plainly in the opening chapter of the Gospel of John: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (v. 14, NIV).

We need to believe beyond what we see.  Many of Jesus’ own disciples, those closest to Him, did not believe that He had risen and returned.  Thomas is given the label of  “Doubting Thomas” due to his failure to believe unless he had seen Jesus with His scarred hands and His pierced and wounded side for himself with his own eyes.  Yet, did not Peter run to see the tomb, with John following along with him, after receiving the news of the risen Lord?  Jesus said it plainly in John 20:29: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. – John 1:18 (NIV)

No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. – John 6:46 (NIV)

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Not too long ago, this rose was nowhere to be seen.  It wasn’t a bud ready to bloom.  In fact, it was dead in my mind.  I was ready to trim, prune or cut in whatever sense to get it back to producing.  Then, after a few rain showers and some lazy reluctance to get at it, I saw the rose.

Think about your business like that.  Naturally, I do not mean the “lazy reluctance.” I mean look beynd the surface.  Identify your customers.  Seek out additional resources.  Free up some capital. 

Get busy with your business. 

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Revelations in Revelation-Part 1 (The Alpha and the Omega)

The title of the final book of the Bible has a revealing title: The Revelation of Jesus Christ  or The Revelation to John.  It varies from on Bible translation to another but each, no matter who published or printed the particular Bible, has the same opening words: “The revelation of Jesus Christ…” Rev. 1:1 (NIV).  The revelation is about Him, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Here is what is revealed about Him initially:

  • “…Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” (vv.5-6, NIV)
  • “…he is coming with the clouds,  and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him..” (v. 7, NIV)
  • He bears many names: Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End (vv. 8, 17, NIV)

I believe John’s testimony serves well for us to remember: Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.  If we both hear this prophecy and take it to heart, we can expect a blessing from the Living One, the one truly revealed by the prophecy:  Jesus Christ.

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The ESV Study Bible
I am captivated every single time I read it.
I crack open my Bible and thumb through cheese-cloth thin pages that crinkle like crisp dollar bills as I pass over the preliminary pages.  I bypass the pages that tell of the inerrant and infallibe of God’s Word handed down from heaven by His Holy Spirit that allowed power to work through divinely-inspired men that led to the Council of Nicea and other gatherings of rulers and rule-makers alike that led to the creation and compilation of the Bible as we know it today. 
That’s when the words hit me.
In the beginning. . .
 
They seem to linger in mid-air somewhere just above my grasp.  They don’t drift or stray.  They just hang there in some solitary space perfectly fit to between understanding and faith.  They are wedged between belief and some alternative instinct that leads me to desire to fully understand something by laying out as much as evidence and facts as possible to arrive at a solution.
In the beginning. . .
 
Was that in the beginning as far as I can remember? Or, are you talking about in the beginning in reference to some time even prior to Moses’ being born in the midst of a cruel regime of Egyptian bondage or Noah even entertained the Lord’s leading of building an ark?
In the beginning. . .
 
No matter how you look at it, “In the beginning” works for Genesis since it means “origin.”  It is the story of creation.  The family line of Adam stems from the beginning. The animal kingdom initiates in the beginning.  Everything comes out of the creation, which marks our very beginning.
Awe seems to sink into my members as I settle in for the ride of a lifetime.  I have restarted with Genesis again as many times before.  As I restart reading God’s Word again, I restart from the same famed verse and very simple prepositional phrase that says so much in three little words.
In the beginning. . .

*From Eden to Egypt is a series for Life Path Ministries by Rev. Bruce Jackson that chronicles a daily study and reading of the Book of Genesis and The Genesis Record by Henry M. Morris.

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But I tell you the truth. . . – John 16:7 (NIV)

Jesus combatted tradition with truth.  He shared the truth openly.  He did so with His disciples.  He also did so with the multitudes.  In fact, He even did so with those who opposed Him like the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Jesus took on tradition with truth.

In Matthew 5, Jesus takes on tradition with two repetitive phrases: “You have heard that it was said” and “But I tell you.” He speaks of “You have heard that it was said” in verses 21, 27, 38, and 43.  Verses 31 and 33 are some variation of the same phrase.  He speaks of  “But I tell you” in verses 22, 28, 32, 39, and 44.  Jesus addresses tradition, but He accentuates truth.  Jesus opens with what has been said, but He discloses how to truly do what pleases God the Father.  He offers the truth as opposed to tradition.

Are hearing truth or honoring traditions? The Lord offered truth that outweighed tradition.  If you have truly heard the truth, test tradition against the truth.  Does it withstand the test? If so, uphold it and continue with it.  If not, you may need to discard it and discontinue it.  Put your traditions to the test with truth.

The teachings of the truth allow us to live and lead by the truth.  Learn the truth.  Live in the truth.  Lead by the truth.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.- John 8:32 (NLT)

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Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 
Malachi 3:8 (KJV)
 
 
Recently, I took some serious devotional and Bible study time to read Malachi. That’s a major undertaking when you consider what the Lord has to say through Malachi and to whom He is directing His words. The primary points of the biblical book are an accusation and warning to God’s people to act like people of God. Whew! That’s heavy stuff, even for seminary students, Sunday school teachers and simple, set apart and sanctified saints.
 
 
Old school Baptists sum up the prophetic book with quasi-biblical phrases such as: robbing God, opening up the windows of heaven, and bring all of the tithes into the storehouse.  These are certainly not verbatim and definitely not theologically sound when used in convenient contextual arenas.  Tithers hold fast to Malachi chapter 3, primarily verses 8-10, but this has nothing to do with introducing or ordaining the tithe.  It is about trusting God and upholding the practice of tithing as means of seeing that God is true to His promises
 
 
People have been utilizing such passages of the Bible to bully and beat up those who do not tithe for years.  Unfortunately, this is due to a failure to maintain a contextual view of the biblical passage and explore an expository and exhaustive explanation of the text in light of audience, intent and culture and history.  Some things may be lost in translation, but one has to keep in mind what type of Bible or study tools one uses.  A paraphrase will not give you an accurate translation since its main goal is to translate thought for thought, while a literal translation seeks to translate and interpret word for word. 
 
 
I would also like to add a warning about commentaries, especially when one is seeking a clear understanding of the text and its surrounding passages.  Understand what type of tool you have and how to use it.  The root word of commentary is comment.  When you read Matthew Henry’s commentary, it is just a comment by Matthew Henry on that book of the Bible or the entire Bible itself.  What you get is an insight into that particular person’s views on it.  If i use Matthew Henry, I am limited to the depths of Matthew Henry and the prevailing theology of his time.  Ever hear about the Dead Sea Scrolls? Were they discovered before or after Mathew Henry’s commentary? How about Martin Luther’s? Commentary usage requires careful steps to avoid slippery slopes.
 
 
Clearly, once one reads Malachi as an entire study, it becomes as glaring as Jeremiah or Isaiah, even Hosea.  The message is about God’s relationship with His people.  God desires a restored relationship with His people, but if they keep going the way that they have been going there’s no redemption or reconciliation.  God has to stop the nonsense and put the challenge before the people about testing and trying Him to see if He is faithful in delivering His promises.

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