Truth is never out of style

I think it’s safe to say we all know weird people, and Normal is just a setting on the dryer. People are strange. They have idiosyncrasies, sometimes very original ideas, and overall have different versions of common sense. But there’s the weirdos who just stand out from everyone. Maybe you can picture that caricature from your favorite TV show. Like Kramer from Seinfeld. The person that stands out as more weird than anyone else. Keep that image in your mind, and let’s go to Matthew 3.

In Matthew 3, we find one such character who stands out radically. His name is John the Baptist.

The Bible tells us that, “John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”

I’m going to invite you to come to the conclusions that Matthew didn’t mention this because it was the fashion at the time. Or that locusts and wild honey was everyone’s daily dietary regiment.

John the Baptist was a weirdo.

And Matthew was making sure you knew that. John’s weirdness didn’t stop him from helping multitudes of people. People flocked to him because he spoke the truth, and he wanted them to get right with God.

Isn’t that amazing?

It doesn’t matter what the fashion of the day is, Truth will never go out of style. God’s life-changing power will never be outdated.

I challenge you to take away two ideas from this picture.

First, God is willing to use people no matter what their fashion is.

And also, We should never reject a message solely because of a messenger. Never look down on someone because you think they do not follow fashion, or you think they’re really weird. If they speak the truth, hear them!

And one more thought, maybe you are that person who is a little awkward, maybe you don’t fit in well, or never seem to look the way people want. Know you’re not alone, and know that God wants to use you! God has a message for you to bring the world. He’s looking for people to proclaim it! He doesn’t want a picture perfect brand representative, He wants someone who will speak boldly for Him.

If he used John the Baptist in all his weirdness, I’m sure he can use you or I! ūüôā

“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand . . . ¬†Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,¬†And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” ¬†Matthew 3:1-2, 5-6

 

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It works while you sleep . . .

Imagine if you could benefit yourself while you sleep. I mean, other than just rejuvenating your body. Imagine if you had a way to benefit yourself spiritually while you slept. That would be pretty amazing right? Well, I’m not going to try to tell you about playing audio books of the gospels or anything. I’d like to share something with you found in Proverbs 6:22.

It says, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother . . . ¬†When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and¬†when¬†thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.”

Notice the second verse, it tells us that obeying the wise instruction of our parents will, lead us and show us the way. It will guard us when we sleep. And it will communicate with us when we awake.

The Bible tells us that if we will pay attention to the wisdom and commands of our parents we can gain all these benefits. One of them, is being protected while we sleep. I interpret, “When thou sleepest, it shall keep thee.” as referring to protecting your thought life even while you sleep. But it could have other interpretations. It could mean that the wise choices that wisdom helps you make in the day indirectly bring physical protection to you. Or it could be referring to a direct supernatural protection from God that comes from being in His will.

Whatever the protection is, it must be something good.

So I challenge you, “Keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:¬†Bind them continually upon thine heart,¬†and¬†tie them about thy neck.” If you do these things and treasure the wisdom of your parents, God promises that you¬†will prosper and reap His¬†blessings- even while you sleep!

Am I therefore become your enemy?

In Galatians 4, Paul is confronting the Christians in Galatia about their view of the law. Apparently, some Jews had persisted in the idea that salvation still required obedience to the rules and regulations of the law. These Jews thought they had to earn their salvation! God made it abundantly clear that no one ever earned their salvation, not even Abraham, and Paul was trying to tell them.

In the middle of Paul’s letter he exclaims, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” – Galatians 4:16

There are times in each our lives when we must feel what Paul may have felt when he was trying to teach these new Christians. When our friends make wrong choices and we wish to help, and they turn on us, not realizing that we wished only to spare them from harm.

No matter what happens or how a person reacts, when you speak the truth to them in love, you are never their enemy. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful¬†are¬†the¬†wounds¬†of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy¬†are¬†deceitful.” Even the Bible suggest that the truth hurts, but it tells us that it will set us free.

So my friend, don’t ever shirk from telling the truth to a friend when they need it. Be kind in the way you tell them, but if the truth is required, then give it. A doctor knows that telling a patient of his disease will “hurt” him, but he also knows that if they use the truth he gives, then they will ¬†have healing.

You cannot control how a person reacts to the truth. They may reject it, but you should not withhold good when it is in your power to do it. Your duty is to love them. A misdiagnosis would make a patient feel better, but it is not love.

Telling someone the truth may feel like you’re becoming their enemy, but that is not the case. Sharing the truth out of love is only the¬†work of a true friend.

 

Easy Come, Easy Go?

In Luke 24, Jesus is risen and He teaches about himself to some of His own disciples. The cool part is that they don’t know who He is. As far as they know, He is just some stranger that is walking down the road. As they continue on, the Bible tells us that, And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

Did you catch that? Jesus pretended like He was going to continue on. He was going to leave. Perhaps, if they didn’t call for Him, He would have left. We cannot make assumptions, but we can take some truths from this account.

These men may have not known that the man was Jesus, but they knew that He had more wisdom and understanding then they. Walking down the road, they had learned and understood more than before. When the source of their learning was about to continue on, they pleaded that He would stay. Reading on further, we find that when Jesus broke bread with them, He revealed Himself to them. (v. 30-31)

I don’t think that God pretends to leave us today, but I do believe there’s a principle here. In this passage, God approached them. Later on, God put the ball in their court. If you are a Christian, you know that God has approached you. He convicted your heart. He gave you opportunities to serve Him. There are countless ways that God approaches us. But if we want a truly intimate fellowship with Him, we have to demonstrate our desire for His fellowship. We have to "constrain" Him.

So I ask you today, how much do you desire fellowship with God? The Bible tells us in James 4:8, that if we draw close to God, He will draw close to us. Are you drawing close to God? If you want a close relationship with God, you must reciprocate. You must make an effort. If you do, then just like these disciples, you will enjoy a relationship on a deeper level. You will know Him.

Do you have an easy-come easy-go mentality when it comes to God’s presence and fellowship? Or do you truly desire it? Jesus wants to come in and dine with you. Will you ask Him to?

Stupid disciples

Most people who want followers are out to win a popularity contest. They’re interested in winning approval, collecting likes and shares, aquiring followers. Our Lord Jesus Christ desires none of these things. God desires that His people and all people learn of His transforming power and live sacrificially for His glory. Let me give you an example.

In Luke 24, we find that two of Jesus’ followers are traveling to Emmaus. They are discussing the tragedy of Jesus’ death. While they are speaking, Jesus himself comes to them. He asks them how things are and they respond sadly telling him about His own death.

Jesus responds with this statement, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Did you catch that? He pretty much called them idiots. Jesus called his disciples a bunch of idiots.

If a company did that to their customers, they wouldn’t survive long. If a pop artist did that to their fans, they might not succeed that much. Jesus’ mission is completely revolutionary. God wants more than a casual relationship with us, He wants our sanctification and growth in Him.

We don’t always have to be told things that make us comfortable, or things that boost our self-esteem. Sometimes, we need to be told like it is. These disciples probably had good intentions. They were obedient to an extent, but their hearts were slow to accept and apply the truth of scripture. We see in verse 27 that He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. The problem was their ignorance and the solution was their attentiveness to the truth of Christ.

I would encourage you. First, don’t harden yourself to rebuke. The truth isn’t always fun to hear, but it needs to be heard. Don’t turn your ears from it. Second, be open to God’s teaching. Don’t allow yourself to be closed off to teaching.

You may be thinking, Well, I don’t have Jesus right here to teach me everything. If you are thinking thus, or with similar thoughts, I would encourage you. In John 6:45, we see that every man is taught of God. In John 16:13, we learn that the Holy Spirit which we have been given will guide us into all truth. James 1:5 tells us to ask God for wisdom because He gives wisdom to all men. God is with you, and He’s promised to give you all the understanding you need.

God isn’t interested in your living in ignorance. He doesn’t just want a relationship with you, He wants you to know truth. Is your heart open to it? Or is it slow to believe?

If your pride helps you do good, is it still wrong?

Pride is an interesting thing. Do you know that pride can actually motivate you to good works? It can! It’s happened in my life several times. Let me explain . . .

In the past, I’ve realized that I have a problem. (such as laziness) Then, instead of repenting with "sackcloth and ashes" and asking God to help me, I decide, "I’m gonna fix this problem!" I set up standards. I make decisions. I enforce resolutions on myself. I will work hard. I will not procrastinate. I will . . .

You see, I decided to fix the problem, without God’s help. It’s not on purpose, but in my heart, I think that I can handle this. Pretty soon, I’m failing at life. I’m no longer procrastinating, but I’m not finding much joy in anything either, and I’m not growing closer to God. In reality, I decided to change, not because I wanted to serve God, but because I wanted to have a good opinion of myself. My actions are feeding my pride and not glorifying God. When I get the sense that God isn’t fully pleased, I’m like, "What’s wrong God? I fixed the problem! I’m trying to serve you! I’m working hard. Why do I feel like I don’t have your blessing?"

I’ve used my fleshly pride to work against my fleshly action of laziness and in the end, I’ve effectively just traded sins. That’s not gonna please God. I’m still in sin. Serving God out of pride is sin just like any other sin.

Have you ever wondered how the Pharisees managed to obey so many of their made up rules? They served God out of pride.

In Luke 18, God tells a story of a Pharisee and a publican. The Pharisee served God according to the outward showing of obedience, but in his heart he was prideful. The publican was humble about his faults. In verse 14, God says of the publican, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

How about you? Do you serve God out of pride? Are you "proud" of all the holy things you do? Or are you humbly seeking a true relationship with your Savior?

I would submit to you, God is not interested in righteous acts that come from an unrighteous heart.

Humble yourself. Ask God to help you. Seek to know God and grow close to Him. He is the one that can change you so that your life will please Him.

After all, It’s God that works in us, both to will and to do, of His good pleasure. (Phil 2:13)

There’s no substitute for . . .

Many years ago, a famous American general, Douglas MacArthur spoke. He said over and over again, "There is no substitute for victory." He was speaking about how someone should wage war. In the Christian life, we are in a war against the world, our flesh, and the devil. Our warfare is not carnal, but it is just as real.

In our Christian lives, there is no substitute for truth.

In John 17, Jesus is praying to the Father. He is praying for us! He prays that we would remain in the world, but that we would be separate from them. His plan is revealed in the plea to the Father in verse 17, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."

In short, Jesus prayed that we would remain in the world, but that His Holy Word, would continue to cleanse us and set us apart for service. That truth He was speaking of is the Bible. God’s Word is essential to the Christian life.

We need God’s Word to permeate our lives, and cleanse us and make us new. God’s Word is our lifeline. Fellow Christian, I would challenge you, realize that there is no substitute for truth. There is no substitute for God’s Word. If we are to succeed in our lives, we need God’s Word. As a Christian, you cannot substitute God’s Word with people’s advice, psychology, or even Godly devotionals. God’s Word is the only thing that can sanctify us for His service.

Won’t you spend time in God’s truth today?