Tag Archives: Truth

Wednesday with John — Verify

John 18:19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
These priests fear Jesus.  They’ve built their system of power and authority on their ability to verify the truth of God; how it’s to be taught and the proper ways to honor it. People are openly responding to what Jesus is teaching; God’s truth alone has the power and authority to the teach people the proper way to respond and honor Him.  The priest’s only hope is to expose Jesus and his disciples as dangerous deceivers determined to destroy their honor, and the authority of what they have built.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Why do you ask me to defend myself?  “Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said…I have said nothing in secret. ” 

What does it say about people?
People understand the need to respect authority, the problem is choosing which authority matters most.  “…one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”

Is there truth here for me?
How often have I depended on learning the truth of God from someone who’s authority I respect?  The answer is a lot, of course.  Respect is a good thing but it’s not the only part of the system created by God himself to teach us His truth.  These are Jesus’s words from John 14:26  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  You might be thinking, ‘but those respected people are educated.’ Think a little more about that.  Ask yourself where they’re getting the truth you’re putting your trust in?  Even respect requires verification.  Or you may be thinking ‘what if I don’t get the truth right?’  What makes you think that even the most respected human source always gets it right?  The beauty of the system Jesus has put it place is the Holy Spirit teaches you to verify your thinking.  He’s the one infallibly right source of truth that promises to confirm OR correct what you’re learning no matter where it’s from as long as you keep checking in for updates.

Sunday with John — Separated

John 17:11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified[set apart] in truth.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus is guarding all those He keeps in the Father’s name so that while they are in the world His joy might be fulfilled in them.  For our sake He has dedicated Himself to giving us the truth that sanctifies and separates us from influence of the evil one.  

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is going to His Father.  He has faithfully spoken the Word of truth to those the Father has declared His.

What does it say about people?
This world is a proving ground for the people of Jesus to define their identify in Him as separate from the lie of the evil one who says the world is his.

Is there truth here for me?
The world is not the left-behind place the devil would like us to believe it is.  The Father has never given up control over His creation and His world.  From Day One of Creation, the world was been a place of separation: the light from the darkness, Heaven from earth, land from seas, day from night and man from beasts, “and God saw everything he had made and behold, it was very good.”   But it wasn’t nirvana.  God wasn’t creating a puppet world.  It’s the devil’s lie that in this world we are under his control.  God’s choice for the free “will” of man was to show them the clear separation between the devil’s lie and the truth that Jesus is the way we “also may be sanctified in [His]. truth” because we are “not of the world.”   

Wednesday with John – Obedience

John 12:44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandmentwhat to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
It isn’t the still small voice this time, “Jesus cried out!”  Listen up…I am the Light God has given for you to believe and see Him.  I’m not your judge, the Word God has given me to speak will be your judge. My commandment is to say and speak His Words in order “to save the world.”  “His commandment is eternal life”…yours!

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus assurance to Himself is His obedience to His father’s commandment…“For I have not spoken on my own authority.” Of course that‘s His assurance to us too.

What does it say about people?
Is there anyone alive who can’t hear Jesus’s frustration in the words of that first phrase “And Jesus cried out”?  Is there any believer alive who doesn’t know first-hand the frustration of longing for someone we care about to believe, hear and accept the truth from Jesus about life from God’s viewpoint of forever?

Is there truth here for me?
This exercise of answering these questions each post is where I often learn the most.  I want to assure God of my commitment to Jesus so I write.  I want to assure you of the reality of Jesus so I write.  There is another truth I saw this morning about why I spend so many hours each week writing. I saw Jesus assuring Himself because of His obedience.  I write every day to assure myself I am obediently learning to be like more like Jesus and writing to you challenges me to find the truth.a  I have one prayer before I press “publish” each time.  Lord do not let your Word be voided by my thoughts.  If there is error, correct me and let it be so obvious to the one who reads that it compels them to find the truth in your Word.

a So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 2 Peter 1:12 NIV

Sunday with John — Surrender

John 11:54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. 55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Passover is the annual “first-month” commemoration for the Jews of God’s provision of redemption for their ancestors.  It’s an affirmation of a communal history but it’s also a time of instruction for the oldest to the youngest to remember and proclaim. “In every generation a man is bound to regard himself as though he personally had gone forth from Egypt.”a   Passover is their personal commemoration of God’s intervention where death passed over His people to give them life free of slavery and the weight of history, to seek purity in their new beginning, from one year to the next.  “Now the “Passover of the Jews” was at hand…They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?”  

a Rabbi Gamaliel, Mishnah 116b.  

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus has returned to “the region near the wilderness” to complete His last Passover preparation.

What does it say about people?
There’s several amazing details in this story.  They [the people] have come “to purify themselves…they were looking for Jesus” AND they’re talking  to one another about it “as they stood in the temple.” Sometimes even in our ignorance we ask the right question at the right time in the right place: What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?”    

Is there truth here for me?
It’s so like God to redefine life in “the region near the wilderness” — an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region — a neglected or abandoned area of a garden or town — a position of disfavor, especially in a political contextb — into the place Jesus is prepared to complete the purpose of his last Passover: that my life might be Passed over from death to eternity, Prepared to live now in freedom, my heart changed to desire Purity and finally able to surrender the weight of sin to Jesus, the New Passover, once and for all.

b Oxford Languages definitions

Wednesday with John — Gathered In

John 11:45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
There are two damming verses in this passage for those chief priests and Pharisees.  Verse 47 is not about the people impacted by Jesus’s “many signs” but that those miracles have narrowed the Pharisees focus to themselves and a different set of personal pronouns; “we and our” in Verse 48. They have forgotten what their God-given purpose IS.  No longer are they maintaining God’s place and God’s nation for God’s purpose.  They think the real threat to their future is Jesus, not that God remembers His plan.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
God never forgets His purpose is Jesus, “and not for the nation only.”  Jesus’s death IS the miracle of life that will display His purpose “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” throughout history.

What does it say about people?
God will reveal His truth even in the perverted context of man’s reasoning and the human tendency to focus on “we and our” instead of God and Jesus.

Is there truth here for me?
Many of those same people who “had seen what he [Jesus] did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees” and told them what Jesus had done.  They’d all seen Lazarus come out of the tomb with their own eyes but now they’ve separated into two groups.  I know there were other miracles where life was restored but the truth here seems particularly clear; “resurrection” is the dramatic separation between those who believe and those who need an expert to validate what they believe.  Resurrection is how God has gathered in His children to validate their faith and make it personal!

Sunday with John + Escape

John 10:31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make ourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? [Psalm 82:6] 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. 40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus is threatened but once again he’s “escaped” the sure death they wish for Him.  “How did that happen?” was the first question I had. The second question was “is Psalms part of the “law?”  This passage seems like a perfect example of God making His point about about the power of Scripture.  Inspired old Words have the same power today, as they did then, to demand thoughtful pauses.  Jesus “escaped” by using His knowledge of the old Words of Psalm 82:6 to effectively push pause in the minds of those Pharisees long enough to get away from them.  He gives them their own law to point out they are accusing Him of the very thing God has declared about them [I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you].  Then…“He escaped…He went away again across the Jordan…there He remained…many came to Him…and many believed in Him…”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
“I have shown you many good works from the Father…” Jesus is confident the basis of His works and His words are from His Father. 

What does it say about people?
From Spurgeon’s Treasury of David: When the dispensers of law have dispensed with justice, settlements are unsettled, society is unhinged, the whole fabric of the nation is shaken.

Is there truth here for me?
Sometimes I find my judgements fall so short of justice that I am unsettled by my own harshness. I realize how easy it is for me to use the Word of God to confirm my judgement instead of pausing to let the God of Mercy confirm His truth that has allowed me to escape sure death.

Sunday with John – Sabbath

John 9:13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)

What is the general theme of the passage?
 
If there was ever a passage that clearly shows the nature of man to dispute truth, even truth which is seen with their own eyes, this is it.  Over and over the Pharisees persist in looking for ways to disprove what they themselves have seen.  The man is repeatedly questioned.  The healing is questioned.  The process is questioned. His parents are questioned.  All the answers given have been questioned.  There is no answer the Pharisees can accept. What they were looking for wasn’t the truth but a way to justify their position against Jesus: “if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he [is] to be put out of the synagogue.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus has chosen the same dust of the earth that created life in the first place to restore sight to this blind man on this particular day.  He’s chosen the most elemental reduction of His power to let them “see” with their own eyes an act that might recall to their mind all the first acts of the Creator who spoke mankind and this day they call Sabbath into being.

What does it say about people?
The human mind and comprehension is shortsighted. We question the simplicity of how God first chose to reveal His power.  “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Is there truth here for me?
I want to recognize and acknowledge it’s because of that same elemental reduction of Jesus’s power that I know anything about the Sovereign Glory of God.  It was Jesus who spit on the muddy residue of my life without Him.  It was Jesus who gathered up that mud and chose it to anoint my heart with His own.  It was Jesus who told me where to find living water to wash that residue away.  It was Jesus choosing the elemental reduction of His power to restart my heart so I could experience this particular day with Him and see…THIS is Sabbath!

Exodus [The Road Out] – The Blood

Exodus 24:1-8

He [The Lord] said
Come —
Aaron, Nadab, and Abhiu, and seventy of the elders
and worship afar off.
Moses alone shall come near
and the people shall not come up with him.
Moses came and told
all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances.
The people answered with one voice
“All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do.”

Moses wrote all the words of the Lord,
and built an altar at the foot of the mountain.
He sent young men of the people of Israel,
who offered burnt offerings
and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord.
Moses took half of the blood,
he threw against the altar.
He took the book of the covenant,
and read it in the hearing of the people.
They said,
“All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”
Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people
and said,
“Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord
has made with you in accordance with all these words.” RSV

The contrast between the Lord’s instruction for some to come and worship “afar off” but that Moses alone should “come near” was the thing that caught my attention.  That separation is such a different idea than what we understand when Jesus says “Come to me ALL who are weary…”   My modern-day heart is looking for clues from this episode of “back to the future”  because I recognize that contrast still exists.  “Afar off” was the trigger phrase that reminded me these people are homeless, weary prodigals,  people who want, even need, to worship but they are lost in the circumstances of life. This is the Word of the Lord, and He’s the only one who knows the future.

Moses took half of the blood,
he threw against the altar.
Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people
and said,
“Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord
has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

The unpleasant visceral images of Moses’s application of that long-ago gory, blood sacrifice as part of worship have done their work in reminding me there are two important truths about blood sacrifice that have forever changed the future for ALL prodigals and I see the reality of them for today.  Jesus IS the Blood of Sacrifice that identifies both the PLACE of worship and the the PEOPLE who  worship there.

Exodus [The Road Out] – The Purpose of Plagues

This verse from The Message Bible impressed itself on me so completely on the last day of 2021 that I made the choice it was going to be the basis of my future posts.  No matter which part of the Bible I might be looking at whether my personal favorites, “everything from the New Testament,” or the “lead up” Scriptures of the Old Testament.  There’s irony involved in how God uses our own words to teach us.  I can imagine that He’s smiling [possibly chuckling] from His throne that the choice for our women’s Bible study at church for the next year is a study of the five Books of Moses to focus [me in particular] on recognizing their “lead up” is really Jesus “leading” from behind the curtain of the Old Testament.  My own words are my gentle, but needed, reminder that my heart is going to be repositioned to experience new “rhythms of grace.”

Exodus 7:2 You shall speak all that I command you; and Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you; then I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring forth my hosts, my people the sons of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth my hand upon Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” RSV

Part 1 of today’s peek behind the curtain: Frogs! It never occurred to me that “the plagues” might have any significance other than being a messengers of destruction until I learned “In ancient Egyptian religion and mythology frogs were a symbol of both childbirth and life after death.”  They actually had a “frog” goddess so “it’s unlikely that the Egyptians were afraid of, or repulsed by, frogs.”

Exodus 8:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs; 3 the Nile shall swarm with frogs which shall come up into your house, and into your bedchamber and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and of your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls; 4 the frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants.”’” …6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

It’s no coincidence that the Lord uses circumstances of life to become intersections of faith at some point.  Many years ago we lived on a lake.  The highway between towns was the division between the lake and a swamp near us. Twice a year there was a frog migration impacted by some internal need that would drive them from one side of that highway to the other; once to the swamp and once toward the lake. There was a swath of the road that would be covered with hundreds of frogs crossing.  There was no dodging them as you drove.  The road turned into a smelly field of massacre as traffic became part of an unnatural selection process.  There was no way to escape the situation if you needed to get somewhere…and it “stank.”

Exodus 8:7 But the magicians did the same by their secret arts, and brought frogs upon the land of Egypt. 

Part 2 of the Peek:  Pharaoh was obviously a victim of his opportunistic and manipulative nature as he dealt with Moses and Aaron.  He’s an astounding example of mindlessly being driven by his own authority and power.  Repeatedly he called down double the trouble on his own people by asking his magicians to exercise their secret arts to duplicate the same plague on his people simply to prove he could compete with the Lord.  His power was the vehicle he could use do that, but that power couldn’t reposition his heart.

Exodus 8:9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to entreat, for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” 10 And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.

Part 3 of the Peek:.
15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart, and would not listen to them; as the Lord had said.

In verse 10 Moses clearly offered Pharaoh the cure for his irregular heart rhythm.  Pharaoh’s heart was hardened against the Lord’s truth but ironically he did still have power over his own truth.  This time “he hardened his [own] heart,” because of his desire to compete with God.  The one choice he could control was the one word spoken by Pharaoh that would unknowingly complete the Lord’s truth for his “tomorrow.”

Wednesday with John – Us and Them

John 1:35 The next day
John was standing with two of his disciples

36 and said “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
37 The two disciples
followed Jesus
38 Jesus turned and saw them following
“What do you seek?”
They said

“Rabbi, where are you staying?”
39 He said“Come and see.”
They stayed with him that day,
40 One of the two was Andrew.
41 He first found his brother Simon
“We have found the Messiah”
42 He brought him to Jesus.
43 The next day
Jesus found Philip and said…“Follow me.”
45 Philip found Nathan′a-el

“We have found him
whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote,
Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathan′a-el coming to him
“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”
48 Nathan′a-el said…“How do you know me?”
Jesus answered.

Before Philip called you
“I saw you.”
50 “You shall see greater things” RSV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Kingdom evangelism of others is pretty obvious, but I wonder if it’s something bigger, like “us and them?”  John sees Jesus walking and identifies him as the Lamb of God.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus notices.  He responds to their curiosity. He invites, “come and see.”
What does it say about people?
They’re curious. The two disciples have obviously already heard about the Lamb of God.  Maybe they’ve even heard of Jesus and what he’s done.  They know enough to call Him “Rabbi’ (which means Teacher).” They’re curious enough to follow Him.  Something has happened as a result of their simple curiosity and the time spent with Jesus that has convinced them He IS the Messiah.
Is there truth here for me?
God didn’t plan evangelism as busy-work for believers.  My human nature wants to narrow the scope of evangelism to reaching out to someone else. It’s simpler to believe sharing the truth I know about Jesus is all it takes to make Him attractive to others. It’s true that what I have recognized about Jesus can be enough to provoke curiosity in someone else.  The real truth is my faith has limited value to the faith of anyone else…but curiosity is catching.  The gift of curiosity and time, invested together with the invitation to “come and see” how Jesus will reveal Himself is what makes evangelism personal for “us and them.”