Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What is Truth?

John 18:38 – “And Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?”

According to George Barna of the Barna Research Group, when asked the question, “Is there absolute truth?” in a recent survey, only 22% of adult respondents answered in the affirmative. In a similar survey by the Los Angeles Times, among born-again adults only 44% responded positively. Among born-again teenagers, only 9% said that there is absolute truth. These are staggering results. But this is not a new problem. In 1970, Johnny Cash released the song “What is Truth?” asking each person to look inside to a see a greater truth. The country had just come through a decade of turmoil with race riots, assassinations and war protests. A growing chasm existed between the youth of the day and current leaders. Cash risked open criticism to reemphasize the message of the youth and a refocusing on a greater truth. He was said to have once infuriated Richard Nixon by performing this anti-authority song during a performance at the White House. Here’s one of the four verses: A young man sittin' on the witness stand / The man with the book says "Raise your hand" / "Repeat after me, I solemnly swear" / The man looked down at his long hair / And although the young man solemnly swore / Nobody seems to hear anymore / And it didn't really matter if the truth was there / It was the cut of his clothes and the length of his hair / And the lonely voice of youth cries / "What is truth?"

This a question for which the answer has been sought for centuries – What is Truth? Pilate asked this of Jesus in response to Christ’s statements in the previous verse, “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Then Pilate asked “What is truth?” He did not even wait for a response, but immediately when back out to speak to the Jews, so it was probably a rhetorical question, or at least one that he thought there was no answer to. Apparently even today, most people think there is no answer to it.

But had Pilate waited for a response, Christ would have probably revealed to him the essence of truth. He had actually been considering that same concept in His prayer in the previous chapter. In John 17:17 Christ prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The blessed Word of God – the eternal Word of God – the living Word of God – “Thy word is truth.” And just as the Word of God, according to the psalmist, “The truth of the Lord endureth forever (Ps 117:2).” And then “After that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation (Ep 1:13),” “Whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel (Co 1:5),” and “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth (Js 1:18).” So Christ would have revealed to Pilate that the Word of God is truth.

And what, or who, is the personification of that living Word – Christ Himself. Look at John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And verse 14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us … full of grace and truth.” Yes, Christ Himself is the Truth – He says so in John 14:6, “I am the … truth.” And in John 8:31-32, “Then said Jesus unto those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” So it is very important that each of us trust in Christ for salvation – He is the truth – His way is the truth – His Word is the truth. So trust in Him – believe in Him – have faith in Him.

Quote – “Naked truth can walk down Main Street and never blush.” – Bob Jones, Sr.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Way

John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

I recently heard a radio preacher expounding this verse. He said he was once out in a rural area looking for someone’s home. He wasn’t having any luck finding the place on his own, so he did the unthinkable and stopped at a store and asked directions of a customer coming out the door. “Well,” began the customer, “You go up here to the third road and take a right. Then you go to the seventh mailbox and take a left. Cross three branches and look to your right for a herd of cows – right across from those cows you take another left. Go three gravel roads, not dirt now, and take another left. The house you want will be the fourth house on the right. You got that now?” The radio preacher asked his audience if they had ever experienced directions like that that totally befuddle you as you try to keep them straight in your head. He continued his story saying that he responded that he didn’t know if he could keep all that straight or not. “Well,” the kind-hearted stranger replied, “I’m going that way just follow me.” The preacher then drove his point home to the congregation by asking, “Now, would you prefer to follow directions about the way or would you prefer to follow the way? That stranger became the way for me, and it was surely a lot easier to follow the way than to try to keep straight his directions about the way.”

And that’s what Christ is to us. He is the Way! There is no other way. All roads may lead to Rome, but all roads do not lead to heaven – as some religionists would have you believe. There’s no alternate avenue – Christ says, “It’s my way or the highway.” Matthew 7:13-14 gives us this instruction, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” His is a narrow way – His is a hard way – His is an unpopular way – BUT His is the only way! Any other way leads only to destruction in the pits of hell.

Man, in his egotism and rebellion, has devised many other ways. Humanism, pragmatism, philosophy, religion – they are all man’s inventions to try to make his own way to heaven – they have “hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water (Je 2:13) – they have become “thieves and robbers (Jn 10:8)” who try to steal their way into the way. John Bunyan spoke of these who tried to climb over the wall into the way in his Pilgrim’s Progress. The wise man of the Bible says in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” God must have considered this verse extremely important as He repeats it almost word for word in Proverbs 16:25. John 10:1 tells us, “He that … climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” Man must give up his puny attempts to find another way and come God’s way – through the Lord Jesus Christ.

And in Proverbs 22:6, God instructs us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” So we are not only to walk in the way ourselves, but we are to educate our children in the way. We are to teach them from birth about the Lord Jesus Christ and His commands to us. We are to teach them to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Pr 3:5-6).” This promise is made to us – if we’ll teach our children about The Way – guide them in The Way – teach them to follow The Way – then He will keep them in The Way.

Quote - "The grace of God hath power to bring salvation to all men," and if a man is unsaved it is because he wants to work it out; he wants to receive salvation in some other way than God's way; but we are told that "he that climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber." – D. L. Moody

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Rules for Marriage

Proverbs 5:18 – “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.”

During his courtship with a young woman named Julia Dent, Ulysses S. Grant once took her out for a buggy ride. Coming to a flooded creek spanned by a flimsy bridge, Grant assured Julia that it was safe to cross. "Don't be frightened," he said. "I'll look after you." "Well," replied Julia, "I shall cling to you whatever happens." True to her word, she clung tightly to Grant's arm as they drove safely across. Grant drove on in thoughtful silence for a few minutes, then cleared his throat and said, "Julia, you said back there that you would cling to me whatever happened. Would you like to cling to me for the rest of our lives?" She would, and they were married in August 1848.

“I shall cling to you whatever happens.” – Oh, what a promise – what a delight – what a wondrous thing. Such should be the promise of every husband and wife to one another. Ecclesiastes 9:9 tells us, “Live joyfully with thy wife whom thou lovest.” This is one of many passages in the Bible that deal with the marriage relationship. It is easy to understand why the Bible deals so much with marriage, as this is how God pictures His relationship with Israel and how Christ pictures His relationship with the church. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” The Song of Solomon is a beautiful picture of the marriage relationship – representative of the beautiful relationship that we have with Him.

I heard once of a couple who married for 15 years began having more than usual disagreements. They wanted to keep their marriage intact and agreed on an idea the wife had. For one month they planned to drop a slip in a "Fault" box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations. The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach: "leaving the jelly top off the jar," "wet towels on the shower floor," "dirty socks not in hamper," on and on until the end of the month. After dinner, at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong. Then the wife opened her box and began reading. They were all the same, the message on each slip was, "I love you!"

Now, experts tell us an average of 13,500 people get married every day in our country. And these marriages range from eternal bliss to virtual warfare. Those who live in bliss have learned that for a marriage to work, both parties must give up self and all its selfishness and learn to become one. Dr. Jimmy Robbins always said, “I got married to love, not to fight.” One Sunday he gave us 10 rules for a happy marriage. I’ll close today with those rules, most attributed to Ann Landers:

1 – Never both be angry at the same time.
2 – Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire.
3 – If one of you has to win an argument, let it be your mate.
4 – If you must criticize do it lovingly.
5 – Never bring up mistakes of the past.
6 – Neglect the whole world rather than each other.
7 – Never go to sleep with an argument unsettled.
8 – At least once every day try to say one kind or complimentary thing to your life’s partner.
9 – When you have done something wrong, be ready to admit it and ask for forgiveness.
10 – It takes two to make a quarrel, and the one in the most wrong is the one who does the most talking.

Quote – “Marriage teaches you loyalty, forbearance, self-restraint and a lot of other qualities you wouldn't need if you'd stayed single.” - Unknown

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Fiery Trials

Malachi 3:3 – “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

I received this story by e-mail: This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver." She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it." If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

Oh, the truth of that simple illustration. God tests us – God tries us – God puts us through the fire. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.” Peter reminds us of this in 1 Peter 1:7, “That the trial of your faith … though it be tried with fire,” and again in 4:12, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” He warns us that trials and testings will come, and through these fiery trials we can be “partakers of Christ’s sufferings (v. 13).” Paul calls it the “fellowship of his sufferings (Phi 3:10).” And it’s through those trials of our faith that we grow spiritually.

No one knew fiery trials better than the Old Testament character Job. Look at his thoughts in Job 23:10, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job went through the terrible ordeal of losing everything he owned – all his material possessions – all his children – even his good health. But he recognized it only as a means of testing and trying. Oh, he cried out – he whimpered – he whined – he even questioned God – but throughout the ordeal, he recognized the sovereignty of God. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,” he said in Job 1:21.

And think of those three young Hebrew lads in Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were quite literally thrown into the fire. They trusted in God to deliver them “from the burning fiery furnace … But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods (vv. 17-18).” They recognized that it may be God’s will for them to perish – they took a stand for what was right. But in verse 25, God did deliver them, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” You see, friend, He not only puts us through the fire, but He’s right there with us to see us through it. So when you’re in a hot spot – when you’re in the fire – when you’re going through some terrible ordeal that you don’t understand, it may just be God’s fiery trial. But don’t fret – He’s real close by – He’s in the midst of the fire – He’s there to see you through.

Quote – “Let this be some comfort to you, that you are one of the Lord's suffering children, one of those who have to pass through rough roads and fiery places in the course of their pilgrimage to heaven.” – C. H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Divine Appointments

Hebrews 9:27 – “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment.”

It has been said that the only sure things in this life are death and taxes. That’s a comical way to look at life, and rather cynical. But to be sure, the only thing that’s certain in life is death. All men throughout history have died – 153,000 die around us every day – all men who will ever breathe God’s air will die. The Bible records only two men who did not have to pass through the portals of death. Enoch, who “walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Ge 5:24),” and the prophet Elijah, who “went up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Ki 2:11).”

The Bible also records several who tasted of death more than once, not the most desirable thing – to have to go through the experience a second time – but there were some who did. The widow’s son raised by Elijah (1 Ki 17), the Shunammite woman’s son raised by Elisha (2 Ki 4), the man who was being buried and touched Elisha’s bones (2 Ki 13), the young man whose funeral Christ broke up (Lk 7), Jairus’ daughter that Christ raised (Lk 8, Mk 5), Lazarus who was raised by Christ (Jn 11), Dorcas who was raised by Peter (Ac 9), and Paul who was stoned, left dead, and raised by God at Lystra (Ac 14). There were probably others during the ministries of the prophets and of Christ and the apostles. You may say that there is no proof that they died twice, but it’s definite that they are not still walking around today. They all suffered death again.

But you can be sure, we all have two appointments that must be kept, not death and taxes, but death and deity. We are all wont to break our earthly appointments. We skip a dentist appointment – don’t we all hate going to the dentist. We miss a doctor appointment. We miss work appointments. We jilt a blind date. We all miss appointments of all sorts. But those two appointments – death and deity – we will not miss. Those are guaranteed.

Let’s look at the first one – Death – “It is appointed unto man once to die …” We have already seen how every man, woman, boy, and girl will one day face death. I have heard it said that how we face death is every bit as important as how we face life. Humanism teaches us, “You only go ‘round once in life, grab all the gusto you can get.” They say this trying to get us to buy their beer, experience their erotic thrills, smoke their cigarettes and drugs. Man spends his entire life searching for answers because he knows that death is coming and he desperately wants to be in control of his destiny. But no matter how much control he asserts, death still takes him. “Death, that undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will,” Shakespeare says in his Hamlet. Man has been puzzled by death since the creation. He has to tried to explain it – he has tried to subdue it – he has tried to slow its advance – but death always wins. Rather morbid – rather depressing – rather discouraging – death always wins!

But what comes after death? Man teaches in his humanistic dogma that there is nothing after death – he’s still trying to have some semblance of control – he’s not willing to admit that there is a supreme being that he must answer to. But he’s wrong. There we find our next certain appointment – Deity – “… and after this the judgment.” This is why man fears death so – why he makes for himself alternate endings – why he cringes at the thought of death. Hamlet again muses that it’s “the dread of something after death.” Romans 14:10 tells us, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Sinners will face Him at the Great White Throne judgment. Yes we will stand before God – we will be judged for the things done in this body – we will face deity for our sins. But the only thing that will decide our fate in that afterlife is “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he (Mt 22:42)?” If you’re trusting in Christ for salvation, then “Death is swallowed up in victory (1 Co 15:54).”

Quote – “A person never gets too busy to attend his own funeral.” - Unknown

"He Knows My Name" - MVBC Young Ladies Trio

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