Transcripts of 27 Dec – 3 Habits

 

Pursuit of Truth

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

The Bible is steadfast that there is only one way to God the Father, and that is through God the Son. There is NO salvation apart from the name of Jesus

“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him does this man stand here before you whole.

Tragically, most Jews and Arabs today, both descendants of Abraham, reject Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Islam and Judaism alike deny that Jesus is the Messiah, nor that He is the Son of God.

It is alarming to realize that God’s people, the Jews, stubbornly reject their own King and Messiah. Yet, nearly 2,000 years after Jesus walked this earth, most Jews today reject Jesus as the Christ. They deny that Jesus is the Son of God. They deny that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life as the Word of God proclaims. Acts 3:13, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus; Whom you delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.”

Likewise, Muslims who follow the Islam religion reject Jesus as the Christ. They deny that Jesus is the Son of God. They deny that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life as the Word of God proclaims. It is tragic indeed! How could over one billion descendants of Abraham deny the very Messiah Who paid their sin debt? The Koran was written by one man, Muhammad, who hated God, Jews and Christians. The Koran contains no prophecy.

Jesus is truth and to make a lifelong commitment to pursue truth is to commit yourself to Christ. Now, pursuing truth is more than just truth telling but rather coming to a full knowledge of Christ. Many churches have separated and been pulled apart by Church doctrine. Doctrine is important but we must put our faith in Jesus and not lies – we must pursue the truth.

Anything that dictates our faith is the utmost importance because our faith saves us. As we read Eph. 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”  This is a gift – we cannot take credit for this…

1 Tim 4:16 says: “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”

We must listen to the Spirit that leads us to truth, we must make ourselves sensitive to His voice. Focus on Him daily and listen intently. Obey and believe Him always, and settle it in our hearts to listen to Him and no to other things.

I believe in a universal church – one that all people who believe in Jesus Christ as their savior are one. Some doctrine is messed up, but not a deal breaker. I seek God in love and love others in his way.

The more we seek the Spirit in our lives the more we can discern doctrine. Read the word, and look at all scriptures together.

God wants us to understand his words, it shouldn’t be a mystery to us. He wrote it to reveal it to His children.  I believe this is so, because the more I read the scriptures the more that is revealed to me.  Like I have read this passage 50 times… but all of a sudden I see something fresh and new.

Nature of the Truth

Ok let us dive into the nature of truth.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” (Eph. 6:13–14)

One of the greatest ironies of history consisted in a question that Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, asked of Jesus of Nazareth.  Enraged by Jesus’ puzzling response, Pilate finally expressed the question “What is truth?”

The irony consists in the fact that Pilate was looking into the eyes of Truth incarnate at that very moment.  Christ, Himself, had told His disciples the previous night, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6).

But was Pilate’s question so unreasonable?  In it do we not find a legitimate search for a meaningful answer?  After all, in a culture where there were as many gods as there were men to worship them, would it not be difficult for the average Roman to define in concrete terms what truth actually was and who it was that possessed it?  I believe that the spirit of Pilate’s question lingers, especially in our day when the very nature of truth itself has been brought into question.  The truth is not so clear even today!

If the Foundations Are Destroyed…

Psalm 11:3 asks this question, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  The modern Christian defender faces a unique problem.  In past times, the object of apologetic argumentation was to bring to light the truth and to dismiss the false, but in modern times the very notion of truth itself has been discredited, so that now the apologist must not only present the truth, but define what truth is.  If the foundational understanding of truth is undermined, what can the righteous do?

We have all heard statements like this before.

“That may be true for you, but it is not true for me.”

“There is no such thing as absolute truth.”

“All truth is relative.”

“You cannot know the truth.”

“Truth depends on how you were raised.”

These statements may seem ridiculous or nonsense, but they represent an increasingly widespread trend of philosophy and viewpoint in the modern world. A trend, which if left unchecked, will render meaningful conversations about God and salvation nearly impossible.

So is truth an absolute and unchanging fact, or is it relative to your perspective and culture?  That is the question that the Christian apologist/supporter must be able to answer in order to lay a stable foundation for further proofs of his faith.

Truth Defined

Truth is that which corresponds with reality.  Or to put it in the words of C. S. Lewis, “Truth is always about something, but reality is that about which truth is.”  This is known as the Correspondence Theory of truth, and is the only logically correct answer to the question of what truth is.  All attempts to define truth in any other way are ultimately logically self-defeating.

We must protect the truth we can literally do this like in the original Greek for “girding your waist” is perizōnnumi, which can literally mean “to put a belt on.” This armor belt in Roman tradition was used for three primary reasons. The first is that it held a dagger, whereas the sword was slung around the shoulder.”

“The second reason for the belt was that the belt was a symbol of the soldier’s honor. They wore decorative metal plates of brass, bronze, or silver around the belt with other decorative metal plates that hung down at the groin.”

“The third reason the belt was used was for supporting the breastplate. The belt itself served as the foundation for the breastplate, without which the breastplate would be too heavy of a burden to bear.”

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13) The Holy Spirit and His leading are the center of all our truth. For when we are led by Him, He leads us into ALL truth. Not partial truth, not half-truths, but all the truth in all its entirety.”

“Do not be complacent and do not be self-seeking, but seek the truth and be eager for it. For by the truth, we are purified in Christ. Therefore, love passionately and obey the truth through following the Holy Spirit.”

So what is the pursuit of truth?

Some pursue truth through observing nature, studying books, through science and others dig deep inside themselves.  Some Christians would say the study of scriptures, but I think that is half right – Truth is a person, Jesus. He told his followers, “I am the Way, The Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). So if we are pursuing truth in its fullness, we must be pursuing Jesus.

I believe that means we focus everything toward Jesus.  Jesus says pick up your cross Cathy and follow me… take my name out of the sentence and put your name… He asked the same of each and every one of us.

No matter what we are doing, we should be connecting it to our relationship with Jesus.  When I am at work – I should be working for Jesus – putting in a good days work and doing the best I can.  When I am with my grandchildren and they do something wrong – use it as a teaching moment and not lose my cool, showing the love of Christ in all I do for them.  Showing that love in the Grocery store, shopping and driving my car.

Finding Jesus in the Bible and everywhere. We will never find complete truth apart from Jesus. Truth is found in the focused pursuit of Him.

Read Col 2:9-17 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

A stunning rebuttal of the false teachers who encourage submission to the “elemental spirits” (v. 8) as a means of overcoming fears of not being acceptable before God. As outlined in the following verses, the “fullness” of God that the false teachers pretend to offer resides in Christ and is obtained only through Him – continue in verse

11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self-ruled by the flesh[a] was put off when you were circumcised by[b] Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

 

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[c] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.[d]

Freedom from Human Rules

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

In Colossae, the Sabbath was kept and festivals observed in order to please supernatural powers or angels thought to direct the course of the stars, regulate the calendar, and determine human destiny. This, Paul says, is a form of bondage from which Christ came to liberate men and women.

Hebrews 1:2-3

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Marks  “these last days” (v. 2). The Son’s coming marks our time period as the “latter days” of salvation promised through the prophets.

Matt 17:5

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. The words from heaven show the disciples how foolish Peter’s suggestion was (v. 4), and they begin to realize who Jesus is. “My beloved Son,” the designation also given at Jesus’ baptism, is the term reserved by the Father for His “only Son” (John 3:16).

Listen to him. The word of God spoken through Moses and the prophets pointed to Jesus. Now the final word is spoken by God’s Son.

Listening… are you a good listener…

Habit Five – Avid Listener

Did you ever play a game called Telephone?  You start with one person telling a story and see how messed up the story is by the end.  It is humorous because on one listens to all the words.  We all laugh, but communication isn’t happening.

I personally have trouble listening because my perception of what is said gets in the way!!! Or even worse my own thoughts are racing through my head and I spare little time to listen to the other person.

Most Christians would say Jesus was a phenomenal leader. He could identify with his audience – he would break down the message in a way they would understand. He would connect with them. We can become great communicators by using Jesus as our model.

Parable of the Sower

Paraphrasing a bit – Jesus told the crowds the story of a farmer who sowed his seeds. Some fell on rocky ground, where it sprung up quickly, but then the sun scorched the plant and it withered away. Other seed fell on thorns and was choked out. Still other see fell on good soil where it produced a great crop.

Jesus said “Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Then disciples said – why do you use parables to tell stories to the people.

The parables are to things people can relate too, but it to reveal to the people who need to be “convicted” without making a direct accusation, so they can apply to a vast audience, each in a different way. Parables are very common way to communicate. Jesus used them often.

He says to the disciples:

This is why I speak in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has been hardened; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, heart with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”

He goes on to say: “Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they heart. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. Listen to the parable of the sower – when anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatched away what was sown in their heart.

The seed falling on good soil are the ones that hear the words of God and understand it. This is the one who produces the crop yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

We all wish for others to hear God’s word and know his heart. We can only pray that we are serving God in the best way possible, but the next parable goes on to say that they will be a mix of wheat and weeds. The enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat. When the wheat sprouted so did the weeds. So the owner had the harvesters collect the weeds and throw them into the fire, and then gather the wheat.

 

Jesus says this is like the Kingdom of God – some people believe completely in Jesus while some people do not believe. It is not easy to know who really trust in Jesus. But one day when Jesus returns he will separate those who really trust and the other people. He tells us what the people that do not trust will end up.

This passage contains the Parable of the Sower, and in many translations, it has this as a heading, added by the translators. Yet, while the parable is in this passage, the passage is not entirely about the parable. We have to view the passage in the context of the chapter.  It is never a good idea to take things out of context.

That is how it is usually taught, however.

The scene opens shortly after Jesus had Pharisees for lunch, as we saw last time; He and the disciples went out to the Sea of Galilee, and the crowds were so big, he addressed them from a boat out on the water. Why shouldn’t the crowds be huge? In the last scene, He had healed everybody who needed healing… on the Sabbath, no less. I’m sure the news spread quickly and since everyone had the day off from work, they came out for the show. Maybe if they were lucky, a Pharisee or two might be crazy enough to challenge Him again!

In verses 3-9, He told the crowd the Parable of the Sower. Beginning at verse 10, we have His aside with the disciples; remember, they are in a boat, and the crowd is ashore… They asked Him why He was speaking to the people in parables. Before we look at the answer He gave, a parable is a metaphorical story that uses common frames of reference to deliver an inconvenient or uncomfortable truth in a non-threatening way, and has been used by the wise to communicate with and instruct others for about as long as people have been writing things down; they are used pretty much universally, and we still use them today, although in our time we usually call them “illustrations”.

In our passage, Jesus answers this way:

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. (13:11-12)

I hope that the first thing you recognized in reading these two verses is that He hasn’t answered their question yet; this is a set up for the answer that will become apparent as He goes along. In short, what He is telling them so far is that they have been chosen as His disciples to have everything reveled to them, but the crowd hasn’t been. Consequently, He speaks to them in a way that requires a certain level of discernment before a person comprehends. He continues:

This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;

Though hearing, they do not hear or understand. (13:13)

Just looking at this, you might expect that Jesus is quoting an Old Testament passage here, but He is not quoting anyone (yet). However, this is the answer to their question; He is speaking to the people in parables because they are not ready to deal with Truth, for they are in open rebellion against God. Why do I say this? Simple Jesus is not the kind of Messiah they are looking for, for they want a Messiah to deal with their political problems (i.e. the Roman occupation) not their spiritual problem of sin. Since God’s plan isn’t what they want, they rebel.

If you are in the habit of sharing your faith, you will recognize this as something quite common in our time, for it is fairly common to find a person who is quite open to the Gospel, as long as Jesus is the kind of Savior who will solve the person’s earthly problems, say financial or career problems, or their relational problems, or their problems with substance abuse or other addictive issues. Yet when their sin is mentioned, they are no longer interested, for they don’t see that as an issue, because they are “a good person”.

Jesus continues quoting from Isaiah 6:

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

You will be ever hearing but never understanding;

you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

For this people’s heart has become calloused;

They hardly hear with their ears,

And they have closed their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

Hear with their ears,

understand with their hearts

and turn, and I would heal them.’ (13:14-15)

At the beginning of this passage, I reminded you of the overall theme in which this falls, that of Israel’s growing rejection of Jesus; do you see it now? It is nothing new in Israel’s history, and Matthew has once again tied the story of Jesus into Israel’s history, even though in this particular case, it is on the negative side of history. The people, by a large, want what they want, when they want it, and if God doesn’t deliver, they turn their backs on Him.

Jesus taught in parables, and those who were seeking relationship with God could very easily understand His teaching, and those who didn’t particularly care what God was doing if it wasn’t what they wanted would have no clue.

Do you feel like you are in a game of life? That you either are spinning on a hamster wheel or running a maze and finding you are getting stuck. Reminds me of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price in Matthew 13.

Discovering God’s kingdom is like stumbling across hidden treasure or finding the one pearl of great price. God offers his kingdom as incomparable treasure at a price we can afford!! We cannot pay the full price for the life which God gives us, but we can exchange our life for the life God offers, we receive a treasure beyond compare.

When you are running the race of life – on that spiral wheel – remember the treasure we need to seek is Jesus. Job 22:23-23 says – “If the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver, then you will delight yourself in the Almighty.” Is the Lord the treasure you seek?

I hope God reveals to you his purpose for your life, but remember his Gift is free. That we’ll be able to freely give all of ourselves to Him. May we find joy and delight in God’s presence.

We go from listening to speaking – 6 Habit is a Tasteful Tongue

Tasteful Tongue – hmmmm enough said!!!!

Ok – maybe not. The Bible has a lot to say about our tongue.

James uses metaphors from common experience to illustrate his cardinal point that great results can be achieved by small means. The tongue is a small part of the body that is capable of creating great disasters.

Tongue is fire. An uncontrolled tongue is likened to a fire that rages out of control.

Staining – evil speech (including blasphemy, gossip, slander, lying, false vows and the like) HAS THE POWER TO STAIN, SPOT AND CORRUPT the entire moral character of a person.

When talking about your tasteful tongue, we are not talking about your dental hygiene, but how you speak to people and treat them with your words.

Read James 3:2-10 – says that the tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life and set on fire by hell… tongue is a small member of the body, yet it boasts of great things….

Psalm 34:13 says: Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

A few tips:

  1. Recognize that swearing does damage.
  2. Think positively
  3. Make your point politely
  4. Stop complaining….

Just a few to start with…

The things we say or fail to save serve as a barometer of our Christian character, according to James.

Prayer

O God, your word to us is the good news of Jesus Christ. Yet too often our words to others are not good news.

We use your gift of speech to boast or speak harshly or criticize.

Forgive us, O Lord, Help us to choose our words carefully and faithfully and to use them for good.

May our words be like fresh water from as spring that gives life, health and joy? Amen.

Psalm 34:13 says: Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. A few tips:

  1. Recognize that swearing does damage. 2. Think positively 3. Make your point politely 4. Stop complaining….

Just a few to start with…

The things we say or fail to save serve as a barometer of our Christian character, according to James.

Prayer O God, your word to us is the good news of Jesus Christ. Yet too often our words to others are not good news. We use your gift of speech to boast or speak harshly or criticize. Forgive us, O Lord, Help us to choose our words carefully and faithfully and to use them for good. May our words be like fresh water from as spring that gives life, health and joy. Amen.

 

I have held my tongue most of my life, but I do occasionally mess up and say bad words. I even have been known to say the “F-word.” Am I proud of this fact… no, but only human flesh and desire comes to mind. We get frustrated and swear or we hit our thumb and swear, or we just develop bad habits of using bad language in our daily speech. That is why we are looking at good habits to incorporate in our lives. Those habits are things that help us to be like God. God wants us to reflect his image – not our own or even worse the world’s image. So if we work hard at not using bad language and use language that builds people up instead of tearing them down – we will project a better image of our faith in Jesus Christ. It makes our God of sharing the Gospel easier too. We do this not out of obligation but because we love God. We have freedom in Christ.

God bless you my friends – hope you all have a Happy New Year. See you next week on the last Habit – Living a Good Godly Life.God wants us to reflect his image – not our own or even worse the world’s image. So if we work hard at not using bad language and use language that builds people up instead of tearing them down – we will project a better image of our faith in Jesus Christ.

God bless you my friends – hope you all have a Happy Holiday – I’ll be tomorrow with the last Habit – Living a Good Godly Life.

Psalm 120:3-4; Prov. 16:27 Tongue is fire. An uncontrolled tongue is likened to a fire that rages out of control.

Staining – evil speech (including blasphemy, gossip, slander, lying, false vows and the like) HAS THE POWER TO STAIN, SPOT AND CORRUPT the entire moral character of a person.

This week we’ll look at how our tongue can built people up and how it can tear people down. Let’s try to build people up this week.

Psalm 120:3-4; Prov. 16:27 Tongue is fire. An uncontrolled tongue is likened to a fire that rages out of control.

Staining – evil speech (including blasphemy, gossip, slander, lying, false vows and the like) HAS THE POWER TO STAIN, SPOT AND CORRUPT the entire moral character of a person.

This week we’ll look at how our tongue can built people up and how it can tear people down. Let’s try to build people up this week.

Psalm 120:3-4; Prov. 16:27 Tongue is fire. An uncontrolled tongue is likened to a fire that rages out of control.

Staining – evil speech (including blasphemy, gossip, slander, lying, false vows and the like) HAS THE POWER TO STAIN, SPOT AND CORRUPT the entire moral character of a person.

This week we’ll look at how our tongue can built people up and how it can tear people down. Let’s try to build people up this week.

Psalm 120:3-4; Prov. 16:27 Tongue is fire. An uncontrolled tongue is likened to a fire that rages out of control.

Staining – evil speech (including blasphemy, gossip, slander, lying, false vows and the like) HAS THE POWER TO STAIN, SPOT AND CORRUPT the entire moral character of a person.

This week we’ll look at how our tongue can built people up and how it can tear people down. Let’s try to build people up this week.

 

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