The Truth About The Truth

The Bible makes it clear that when one becomes born again immediately the power and tyranny of sin is broken over them.  This is a result of Jesus' work on earth which led Him to the cross to pay the price for the sins of all mankind.  This was ratified in His rising from the dead which provides eternal life for those who receive and follow Him. The point at which one receives Jesus is the starting point in an awesome relationship that is designed to grow throughout the rest of eternity...way far beyond this life.  So why are so many born again believers of Jesus still bound to sin?  Why are so many returning to the sins they were set free from?  And why are so many believers being trapped into new areas of sin in their lives?

There's a marked difference between being tripped up by the enemy and stumbling, and being bound to sin in certain areas of your life.  Jesus said whoever commits sin is the slave of sin.  This means to willingly and knowingly sin.  In another place He said you become the slave of whatever you submit to.  The truth of what He implies is that as strong as the pull of sin can be on a born again Christian...we still have much to do with whether we become a slave to it or not!  And Jesus made it possible through His sacrifice for you and me to REMAIN free from sin.  We have our part.  James said that if we submit ourselves to God, resist the enemy...he will flee from us.

Even before Jesus went to the cross He began to prepare us to live in victory over sin.  John 8:31- 32 says,  "So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."  Notice that Jesus had a message for those who had just believed Him.  I'm convinced that the next few words of out Jesus' mouth would not have come out of His mouth had those Jews not believed Him.  For those who had just believed Him Jesus was telling them "You are about to become free.  However, you must continue in my teaching in order to stay free.  Why?  Because I (He said) teach the truth...and it is the truth that will make you free!  Believing Me is not enough.  If you really believe Me, you will live what I teach and you will do what I instruct you to do.  Why?  Because what I teach is the truth...and the truth will make you free!"  It is obvious these Jewish believers needed a lot of Jesus' teaching.  This fact was revealed as they totally missed Jesus' point.  Listen to John 8:33, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'?"  These folks (who were enslaved) didn't even know they were enslaved!  But Jesus' teaching (the truth) would set them free.  The requirement however, was to forsake the world, their man-made traditions, live the word's of Jesus, and follower hard after Him!

In all of His infinite wisdom Jesus was unveiling a plan for these skeptical Jewish folks to become free from the bondage of their sins.  This is ingenious!  Listen to John 8:34 - 36.  Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.  So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."  In His example Jesus compares a slave to a son.  A slave may work in the house, but he is not a part of the house (lineage or family).  And even in a physical sense he one day will be removed and replaced by another slave.  He may even be sold and replaced.  On the other hand, a son will be a part of the family (house or lineage) forever!  Why?  Because of the blood line.  Jesus was about to pour out His blood for the whole world and send forth the Spirit of adoption that would make all who truly believe in Him sons of God!  They would no longer be slaves, but sons!  No longer enslaved (to darkness) but free!  Again, Jesus said, "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."  Jesus also was telling you and me that if we are truly sons and daughter of God, we can no longer LIVE as slaves.  Why?  Because we're not slaves anymore.  We are sons and daughters.  We are free!

Jesus' stay on the earth was temporary.  He would eventually return to the Father in glory.  So He tells these folks to "Continue in my word and you will be my genuine followers.  The result is you will know the truth...and it is the truth that will make (and keep) you free."  And that's the truth about the truth!

Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

I remember some of our vacations as a child.  We would usually go down to the Coast for a week.  From where we lived it was about a 3 hour trip.  3 hours doesn't sound like a long time, but to a child it can seem like an eternity!  3 hours of anticipation can make it seem like 12 hours!  Finally we would get there and somehow it seemed worth the long trek.  Back then I didn't care about the journey.  I just wanted to get there.  "Are we there yet?"  To me vacation didn't begin until I could run out of the motel room and cannonball into the pool!  Even as a young man I didn't care for the trip.  I just wanted to hit the road and stop only when we got there...no matter how far it was.  But something happened to me at some point.  I can't pinpoint it exactly, but it happened some time after I invited Jesus into my life.

At this current point in my life,  the journey is just as much fun as the whole vacation.  Instead of barreling down the interstate (we won't discuss the speeds), Connie and I simply love taking the back roads, taking pictures, and stopping to look at the sights.  We've learned that the journey is just as much a part of the trip.

Life itself is a journey.  We are constantly moving forward through time.  Life around us continually changes as well as the bodies we live in.  Life is less like a series of snapshots and more like a video!  It is ever changing.  I have learned that those days gone by are just that...gone by.  You can't live them again.  But you can still enjoy the journey (the present).  You are on a journey right now.  Your destination is God's awesome plan, purpose, and destiny for your life.  You may feel like you're in a holding pattern or like you're going nowhere at the present.  But you are.  Enjoy the journey.  Enjoy today, because once it's gone, it's gone.  The lyrics to the song "While I'm Waiting" explain that you can be blessed at any point on the journey because He is with you...all the time and all the way. 

"I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Takeing every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait"

No.  We're not there yet...so enjoy the journey!

 

You May Be A Trail Blazer If...

A good way to start off this post is to define the term trail blazer.  According to dictionary.com a trail blazer is a person who blazes a trail for others to follow through unsettled country or wilderness.  A pathfinder.  Or a pioneer in any field of endeavor: (a trailblazer in science.)

I remember studying about the pioneers that settled our country.  From the time they landed on the shores of America, they pressed westward, passing the spirit of the trail blazer down to the next generation until all of America was settled.  With each generation the trail became more clear and America's heritage became more solid.  These people were real trail blazers.  Because of what they did (and did without) we are who we are and have what we have today.

One of the greatest trail blazers of all times (to me) is the man William Carey.  Carey gave up his life and moved to India in the late 1700's to share Jesus with the people of India.  It was a hard life which cost him one of his sons.  While there his wife suffered a nervous breakdown.  He shared the gospel and worked very hard to support his family for several years before the first person accepted Christ.  But in God's time the people of India started to find the path.  The trail to Jesus was being blazed!  William Carey is known as "the father of modern missions" even today.  Carey was a true trail blazer of the gospel of Jesus in the nation of India. 

Do you think you are a trail blazer?  You may be a trail blazer if:
  • You are a first-generation follower of Christ in your family.
  • You continually feel motivated to go against the flow.
  • People continually tell you "It won't work" - but you simply can't get the "What if" out of your spirit and mind.
  • You cannot tolerate mediocrity.
  • You feel the need to improve on what the previous generation has handed you.
  • You feel the need to prepare the next generation to blaze even further than you have.
  • You feel the frustration of not seeing the results you think you should see.
  • You feel like you cannot relate to those you are sent to.
  • The heart of God becomes the dream you are pregnant with.
  • You see the results many times - after the fact.
Being a trail blazer is not easy.  Trail blazers can experience rejection and hurt from well-meaning people.  Trail blazing is not a popular concept.  But the heart of the trail blazer is special.  God created this heart with an extra measure of resilience and stamina.  Trail blazers experience discouragement often, but still press on just like the pioneers of old.  

If you are a trail blazer be encouraged.  You often don't see the fruit immediately, but you will see it.  You will receive your reward in full.  The very nature of your calling is to impact the lives of others.  And believe me, for that...the reward is great!

His Faithfulness

It's a Sunday morning.  I haven't been up long at all.  I just finished my time in the Word and still sipping on my cup of Italian Roast.  I really love this time of day.  Things are fresh and things are quiet.  A busy day lies ahead, but this time of the day makes it all worth while!  It is these times that clear my head and give me a proper perspective of the day ahead.

During these early morning times I like to ponder things.  Right now I'm pondering the faithfulness of God.  In the Bible Paul said, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself."  (2nd Timothy 2:13)  This short, but very powerful scripture says much.  God is faithful...even when we're not.  I am so glad God's love is based on His faithfulness and not mine.  God is the creator and initiator of all things.  John said we love because He first loved us.  God loved you and me before we could even begin to love Him.  We now can love Him and others, because He first loved us.  Again...He is faithful even when we are faithless.  The reason God is faithful is because He is true to His Word.  God tells us in the Bible His plans for mankind and the world.  If we live by the principles He laid out in His Word we even discover His plan for us as individuals.  God's Word is His standard.  If God disobeys what He says, He denies Himself.  But according to the scripture above He cannot deny Himself.  This might be just a pinch deep but we must understand that what God has spoken (and is written in the Bible) is so solid, so trustworthy that He cannot deny Himself.  Therefore God's Word must be the standard we live by.  Listen to me carefully.   It is only when we live by and practice the principles in the Word that we truly and fully experience His faithfulness.  This is simply walking by faith.

A sick woman came to Jesus to be healed.  She had been sick for many years.  She was telling herself "If I can just touch Jesus, I know I'll be healed."  She was convinced of this.  When she did touch Jesus He stopped and acknowledged that healing power had flowed out of Him.  Before it was all over Jesus said to this woman "Your faith has made you well."  What He meant was that her simple trust in Jesus to heal (he had healed others too) was what caused the faithful Healer to heal! 

God is faithful and He will always be faithful...even when we're not.  We know that.  But He created you and me to experience His faithfulness in its fullness...not from a distance.  So from  this we can deduce that to experience His faithfulness we must simply walk by faith.  It's that simple.  But to walk by faith is to know and trust in His Word.  Life's circumstances don't always present the truth.  But God's Word does.  By trusting in His Word, we trust in the One who remains faithful and cannot deny Himself.  If you truly desire to experience God's steadfast faithfulness...simply take steps of faith.  Trust in His faithfulness.  It's all in His Word.

Living for the Day

As I write this post it is Friday! You know, T.G.I.F. And as I look over who's doing what on FaceBook I see several comments about this being Friday. As a matter of fact, some comments actually started showing up late Wednesday! Isn't it interesting how we live for the day? Friday means it is the weekend "eve". Everyone is excited about Friday! The weekend actually begins when you exit the place of your job - on Friday! Everyone is in a good mood - anticipating the weekend.

Now contrast that to Monday! Monday is the beginning (not the end) of the work week. Attitudes are somewhat different! On Monday morning no one seems to be even the least excited about a FULL week of work ahead! I've also noticed over the years (I have worked a few) that as the week progresses toward Friday attitudes lift accordingly. It is amazing how we live for the day! Wow! What a difference THE day makes!

I've learned something very, very important over the years as a follower of Christ. Every day is a great day! When you consider this in light of our awesome relationship with Him you realize the truth of the preceding statement! Why is every day a great day? Because He is great! The Bible says He is the same past, present, and in the future. His life-changing love for you and me is the same on Monday as it is on Friday! When you realize the depth of His love for - your circumstances no longer make or break your day! As you grow closer to Him feelings no longer determine your mood for the moment!

I have to tell you this. Way back when, the day I genuinely met Jesus it was during the very worst time of my life, I was at the very bottom of the pit, and it was on a Monday! What started out as the all-time, worst day of my life turned out to be one of the greatest days of my life! Yea baby!

So if you know Him today - it is a great day! Not because it is Friday, but because He is great! Let me warn you....today is Friday but Monday is on the way. And when Monday arrives choose to make it what it truly already is - a great day!

A Breath of Fall

It's another cool, late summer morning here in Mississippi.  There is definitely a taste of Fall in the air.  Of course, this is Mississippi so the taste will fade in a day or two and Summer will resume it's effort to hang on as long as possible.  But mornings like today remind me that Fall is just around the corner.  The coolness of this morning encourages me that a refreshing change is just ahead which brings long-term relief from the oppressive summer temps we've encountered this year.

Have you noticed that dispositions change when there is a hint of cooler temps in the air?  Attitudes seem to improve when the initial signs of Fall begin to appear.  Fall is the end of the summer heat's grip on us all!  Why wouldn't we feel better...even if this first taste is for just a couple of days!  Jesus said that we can look at the tender branches in late winter, and see they are just about to bud and know that Summer is really close.  He also said we can observe the signs of the times and know He is near.

We live in some very disturbing times no doubt.  But the God we serve is the God who is in control of it all.  He said when you see certain signs occurring, know that He is very, very near.  Jesus never meant for us to panic when we see the signs of His return.  Instead, like this breath of Fall we're experiencing (and the excitement it brings), we are to get excited that He is near.  If you can see the signs of the times of Jesus return, like the approaching Fall...are you excited?

NO is not Always Negative

Imagine a sales person (who sells for a living) who is convinced that every prospect will say "no" to his every sales pitch.  How in the world would he still be in sales?  Why would he even be in sales?  Many sales people start out with a bang, being successful..  But then at some point (usually early on) someone says "no" to them.  It might be the very first prospect.  If that sales person has not prepared himself to hear the word "no" it might effect him negatively.  That sales person will eventually begin to expect every prospect to say no.  When that happens, it's time to re-train or look for another profession.

Understand that no is not a negative word.  To a successful sales person no can mean a multitude of things.  No can mean:
  • Spend no more time on this one and move on to the next.
  • Examine my pitch to see why they said "no".
  • One less "no" to experience.
  • Not now, but maybe later.
  • Perhaps I need to change my pitch somewhat.
  • Perhaps I need to practice my pitch more.
  • Perhaps I need a more thorough knowledge of the product I am pitching to gain more self-confidence.
  • Perhaps I need to hang with someone who is more successful than I to learn more.
I could spend the rest of the day listing legitimate meanings for the response "no".  Some people seem to naturally be successful at sales.  But all sales people must be prepared for the response "no".

A successful sales person is always learning, practicing, and looking for new prospects.  Some sales people have to pitch more people to get through the no's in order to get their quota of yes's.  A company I have worked for says I will be successful if I close 6 sales out of 100 pitches.  These numbers have a lot to do with the product presented and the fact that 94 out of 100 people won't think they need my product.  Imagine that...94 "no's" and just 6 "yes's" and I'm successful!  You have to have thick skin to hear all the no's.  But they're not personal.  They are just personal decisions made by each different person pitched.  I'm not required to make the person accept...but I am required to make the pitch.  If I consistently make the pitch, and learn from the no's, the 6 or more I get make me successful...something not everybody does! 

As followers of Christ we could learn from the world of sales.  Christ is not a commodity or a product we're pitching, however He did tell us to tell them.  He did commission us to present to others the good news of who He is and what He can do.  He is the best thing we could ever pitch to someone else!  So remember, when someone tells you no, it's not personal...it is a personal decision that person has made.  Even receiving a "no" when sharing about Jesus is not necessarily negative (see meanings for no above).  And the truth is you probably will be rejected as a follower of Christ by someone at some point.  But the whole world rejected Jesus, so He could be presented to you and me.