Power of Truth

It was a warm summer night. The beautiful sky was filled with stars as far as the eye could see. Mary was relaxed in the passenger side starting to doze off, confident that her husband would get them safely to their destination, Myrtle beach, South Carolina. She was already starting to dream of the perfect beaches, fine restaurants and championship golf courses. Then suddenly something started to bother her.

They had made this trip many times and this time things looked a little different. “Tom, this doesn’t seem right. Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Tom patiently replied, “Of course sweetie, just relax and take your nap.” “Tom, I tell you we are going the wrong way where’s that map?” She started looking for the map and Tom just a little more frustrated insisted “You have nothing to worry about. I know where I am going. I am right!” Mary gave up looking and exclaimed “Yeah you’re right. Well I can’t find it anyway.” She made herself comfortable and went off on her nap.

A sudden stop woke Mary up, “We’re there already?” Tom sheepishly answered, “No dear, we’re lost.”

It took a brief stop at a Gas station for directions and a costly 2 hour detour, but Mary and her husband did arrive safely at Myrtle Beach.

What is worse than going the wrong way? Stubbornly insisting your right, while going the wrong way in the middle of the night, on a long trip to South Carolina is definitely worse. What is better than believing your right? Discovering the truth that sets you on the right course and sets you free from a blind belief in deceptions that can only lead to failure and destruction is definitely better.

Jesus tells us that “The truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) He was speaking of the truth that He is the savior that came to sacrifice His life that all could be saved. When we discover the error of our beliefs, what we are left with is the treasure of truth. The truth that Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate price that has been paid so that a world lost in sin could be saved is the greatest truth of all. A multitude throughout history have discovered this great truth, that if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are forgiven from all sin and immediately become part of God’s kingdom forever.

The power of truth continues to work in all our lives, knocking at our hearts and minds. However it is often hindered by our pride. When we are set in our beliefs and guided by misconceptions it can be difficult to see beyond these cherished beliefs. Sometimes we stubbornly argue like Tom, when all along we are headed in the wrong direction.

 

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Sacrificing your son

There you were minding your own business enjoying the son that God had promised you many years ago. Now everything had fallen into place. What could possible go wrong? Then you heard the voice of your God, the voice that had always comforted you, the voice that had always directed you. How many blessings had you received by just listening to this voice? The day just couldn’t get any better, except God made the strangest request. This loving, faithful God who hated evil and sin had just asked you to commit the most heinous act of sacrificing your son.

What do you do? Abraham found himself in this position. (Genesis 22:1-2) What is remarkable is that Abraham’s faith never faltered. He followed God’s direction to the letter.

He went to where God directed him to go, laid down the wood and placed his son on the altar. He then raised his knife and at the very last moment was stopped by God. (Genesis 22:9-12)

God provided a ram for the sacrifice. (Genesis 22:13) This must have felt like the definition of relief. Isaac was spared and Abraham did not lose his son. Beyond any doubt he proved his love and obedience to God.

Jesus reminds us that we must love God above all things. (Matthew 22:37-38) Consider those things that have the most value to you. Now consider the people you love the most. Are they more important to you than God? Would we be willing to sacrifice our relationship with God to please them?

Abraham was willing to lose his son for God. What are we willing to surrender to please God and have a closer relationship with God? This is the God who has already proven His love to us. God is the father who actually did sacrifice His son Jesus so that we might be forgiven and be saved. It was the sacrifice of His son Jesus that paid the debt of our sin and allowed us to be called sons of God.

He has shown us His love. Perhaps it is our turn to show Him our love.

 

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A new life!

Later, at my church at around 2 pm we will be celebrating life; a brand new life in Christ. Thirteen newly committed Christians who have made a decision for Christ will be baptized. This is a life paid for by Christ and it was a heavy price of pain, torture and blood. But why do Christians get baptized?

The simple answer is that Jesus commanded us to be baptized. In Mark 16:15-16 Jesus tells his disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” But why did Jesus instruct us to baptize new believers?

Jesus made a commitment to come to this world, and gave his life in the most horrific and public way possible. He suffered the crucifixion and the entire world witnessed. When we give our life to Christ He wants us to also make that commitment in a public way for the world to see that we are his disciples and now He is our Lord.

Romans 6 helps to explain that the baptism also provides a powerful visual of how our old life without Christ is put to death in the water and when we rise out of the water we are now starting a new life with Christ. It is also a powerful reminder that like Christ we will be resurrected and live forever with Him.

Our new life is certainly an abundant eternal one and we will celebrate!

 

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Faith and a flood

In a world that had forgotten God, a world filled with violence, there was one man who God considered “perfect.” His life was a story of faith. There were no bibles or churches. No place to go to strengthen your faith. No group to seek comfort in. It was an entire civilization that had turned its back on God. Somehow Noah had managed to stay faithful to God. He was proof that even when we must stand alone it is possible to keep the faith.
God challenged him even more. He told Noah that he was going to do something that had never been done. He was going to destroy His own creation with a flood. Imagine what the naysayers said. “Noah you’re mad. You’re just hearing voices.” Perhaps they said “But God created us and loves us. He’ll never destroy us.”

However Noah was a believer to the end. He built an ark that was 450 feet long, 50 feet wide and 30 feet tall. It included 3 stories and was built to occupy his family and a multitude of animals. How he managed such a feat the bible does not explain. In the long time it took Noah to build the ark his faith never diminished. (Genesis 6)

Due to his unwavering faith Noah and his family were saved. This is the faith that is necessary today. Many have lost faith. Those that believe in God, the bible and see Christ as their savior appear to be fewer with each generation, however Paul prophesied a “falling away in the last days” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) or a falling of the faith. Like in the time of Noah, Paul also prophesied a coming destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Like in the time of Noah most are not concerned. However Christ is faithful to His word and will surely return. Therefore like Noah we must strive to keep the faith even in the most difficult of circumstances; a storm may be on the way!

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Tending to others while on the cross

Jesus was beaten, whipped and nailed to a cross. After all Jesus had been through, you would expect him to hang there in His misery crying in pain or casting judgment. Surely we all have the tendency to focus on our own problems and difficulties. We can be rather indifferent to others when we are in the midst of great tragedy and sickness. In truth even the smallest setback can make us a bit self-centered. Some would call this survival instinct. Perhaps we can call it selfishness. But Jesus with His last breath, and little strength, fighting pain, saw the women that had been with Him since childhood and the most faithful disciple He had. He saw their hearts and knew their needs. He saw a mother losing her son and a disciple losing his friend and companion, and knew how to care for their needs. He drew them together with this statement “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27) He knew that one could supply the need of the other.

Jesus still sees our hearts and knows our needs. While hanging on the cross He made the needs of His followers a priority; surely our needs are also His priority. Wait one minute; this was Mary and John! Are we held in the same regard? Actually we are! Jesus said, “For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”(Mark 3:35)

Jesus has never be too distracted or busy to tend to our needs. He proved that on the cross. One other note here is that He took care of the needs of two individuals by bringing them together. Often God uses us to satisfy the needs of each other. It is one of the many reasons why we are called to do His will (John 14:23) and tend to those in need (Matthew 31-46). In doing so we do what is best for our lives and all those around us. We also become more like our Savior who was able to tend to the needs of others while in His most difficult time.

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Father forgive them

If we were arrested unjustly, stripped, beaten, made fun of, whipped until our skin was ripped from our bodies, and had the strength to speak, what would we say? What if after losing a great deal of blood, we were made to climb up a hill, and nailed to a cross, what would we say? Perhaps we would cry for mercy. Another logical response is to exclaim our innocence. We might have enough energy or voice to condemn those who tortured. Now imagine if for some magical reason we all of a sudden had the power to escape. All the pain could end suddenly. All the wounds healed and we could reappear in paradise. What would we do? What if we had the power to get immediate revenge? We could zap to death all those responsible for our capture and pain.

Jesus went through everything mentioned above. He had the power to stop the pain anytime he wanted to. He had the power to destroy his enemies with just a simple word. The Mountains would have certainly obeyed and swallowed them all, the seas could have been commanded to come upon them or a legion of Angels would have defended him. But Jesus did none of these. He certainly could have condemned the soldiers responsible for his torture. But Jesus spoke no such words. Instead these were the first words he uttered on the cross “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

This is truly the loving God that did not come into the world to condemn it but to save it. (John 3:17) While going through all that pain and injustice all he thought of was mercy. Mercy was his mission and purpose. It is the reason why he gave his life. It was the price paid for our sins; that we might be saved from eternal condemnation. He is still saying “Father forgive them”. All can be forgiven, all we need to do is believe in Christ as our Savior and Lord, and repent of our sins.

 

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Jesus was never captured

When they came to arrest Jesus he was surrounded by his disciples. The high priest came with soldiers and Jesus without fear or hesitation approached them and asked who they sought. When they responded Jesus told them “I am He” (John 18:6), immediately they all fell back. Such was the power of the only begotten son of God.

Jesus did not have to go.  He did not have to surrender.  He was never captured. Jesus was completely in control as much as the day he formed us. He is the alpha and the omega who knew He would have to give his life even before laying down the foundation of the earth. (Ephesians 1:4) Knowing that He would have to suffer He made us any way.

Jesus allowed the soldiers to get up and arrest him. The only thing he asked was that his disciples remain untouched. (John 18:8) Only after they agreed did Jesus give himself up. He was, still is and forever will be the good shepherd who gave his life for the sheep. (John 10:11-18) Because of His sacrifice we can be saved.  All we have to do is believe. Now we are forever in the hands of this good shepherd.

 

 

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