The Search for Truth

I want to know Jesus the Christ. My quest is personal and it is real. I refused to be satisfied with anything imagined, man made, or mythical. I want the truth.

Why would anyone stand for anything less? Why live a lie? Why believe just what people say?  BUT we do. I do.

Here is a personal example and the reason I am not using the New International Version in my personal studies for now.

I cut my teeth on the NIV. I can remember winning a new NIV New Testament from my Father for memorizing the entire text of Acts chapter 2 when I was in the 6th grade. This was the translation I carried from class to class in my public high school. I debated from it. I preached my first sermon from it. And for the most part, I believe the NIV equip me to know God.

But then I began to study the history behind the English bible. It is a fascinating history. I was stunned. I found out that men have since the time of the Apostles set out to deceive people to achieve certain ends.

You may have already known this; however, I did not realize every English translation made has been tainted by the mind of the men translating the text. I found it interesting to learn the history behind the different translations during the Protestant reformation. The Protestant translators trying to make the Catholic Church look bad and the Catholic Church trying to produce translations that were “Authorized” so the populous would be “protected” but really controlled. The result created an arms race, okay maybe a publishing race, to produce the official Word of God.

And, we bought it.

Still even today, modern English translations are following the same path. What bothers me is how overtly the owners of the NIV are changing things. I know they want a “modern” translation. I know they want to appeal to a broader audience. In theory these goal are good. But watch out. What truths might be compromised to avoid hurting anyone or to sell more books?

Search out truth for yourself. Don’t believe what people tell you. Weight the evidence. The task is not about getting to know my personal god, a modern god, or the god for cat lovers or whatever the next publishing craze is. It is a quest to know The God who gave us His Word through the things inspired men of God wrote down. The only way to accomplish this is to honestly, and I mean really honestly, look at what the documents say. My attempt is to limit human interpretation and human bias.

To really do this I think one must learn the original languages. However, not all of us are going to take that burden on. I for one am not ready to do so. Therefore, I must pick wisely the documents I read and to read many different ones.

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. Psalm 145:18

May God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, bless you in your search to know Him. May he give us all a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of our hearts will be enlightened.

God bless

Advertisements

Does God Love Me?

Okay, I could have asked, “Does God love you?” But I thought I would just pick on myself here. You can pretend I am talking about you if you want.

Consider this…

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”- John 15:10

Do I obey Jesus’ commands? A lot of times we tell ourselves how full of grace and acceptance God has. He does have a lot. After all, look at the types of people Jesus reached out to in the New Testament.  However, Jesus said, “Obey my commands.” Actually he said, “if”, which indicates there might be a catch to God’s love?

Let me put it this way. Could Jesus be saying, If you do not obey my commands you will not remain in my love? This might be the negative view. But I think you get the picture. Jesus gave an example of his own too. He obeyed his Father and because of the obedience, remains in God’s love. Can we fall out of God’s love?

You think about it. I am not going to say any more right now.

God bless.

The Power of Weakness

The weak will be strong.

Sound foolish? You bet it does. No one wants to be weak. I mean intentionally. We try very hard to apeer strong, stoic, and unyielding. After all that is true power. I do not want you to see me cry, to blush in shame, to admit my failures and defeats. I refuse to let the secrets of my life leak out of the walls I have built to protect my honor and pride.

No, I will not be weak! And I lie too.

The only real problem with my strength is I know it is false and everything I am doing to perpetuate the illusion of strength is a lie. Lies all lies.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I cannot fully explain what Paul is completely saying here. I do not know what his thorn was. Don’t think it important or he would have told us what it is.

Consider this. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Power, what power? His forgiveness, his love, his mercy. His capacity to shape and mold us into the men and women he calls us to be. When God’s strength rests on me, what do I care about my weaknesses? When God has forgiven my sin, what do I care about my past? When God has set me free from my past, how much higher can I soar in the future?

It is only when I step aside and let God take control can I then look back and see how powerful and wonderfully God has worked in my life.

Isn’t it great to be weak? God bless.

A Heart of Flesh for a Heart of Stone

“They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD.” Ezekiel 11:18-21

Heart conditions are so important. The heart is the most important thing.  God tried so hard to teach the Israelites that what was most important is the heart.

Do you have a heart of stone? It was a heart like the idols the Israelites were following. Stone for stone. A heart far from God and unyielding, cold, callous, and hard. They did not follow God’s decrees. Their hearts were devoted to things, worldly things.

God longed to bring the Israelites home. To give them a heart of flesh. Soft, yielding, alive, and warm. A heart after God. One that would keep God’s laws and remove the things in their lives that distracted them from God.

Today?

God has paid the highest price for our heart. His own Son. Jesus came to teach us how to obey God. To show us what love means. To be the first born of many. He came to touch our hearts and turn them from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh.

God bless.

Come, Let us Return to the Lord

When things are in the crapper who do you blame? Life hands me a bunch of sour grapes and I will be the first to tell you it is not my fault. When God deals out discipline, how should we react? The Israelites did one of two things, they grumbled or they returned to God.

1 “Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.

 2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.

3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.”

4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears.

5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets,
I killed you with the words of my mouth;
my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.

6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

7 Like Adam, they have broken the covenant—
they were unfaithful to me there. Hosea 6:1-7

This is a good example of God’s grace in the Old Testament. God clearly states his desire, “mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” God wants the heart not your stuff. He want our whole self not lip-service. God wants us to be faithful to the covenant.

The Israelites fell into a very real and very modern trap. It is the same trap the nations around them had already fallen into. They  had forgotten what God wanted from their worship. (By the way, it is the same thing God wants from us today.) In their worship, over time, they began to focus on the wrong things. They focused on things just like the nations around them did. The nations around them focused on the actions associated with conjuring a god. They fell into the trap that if they did XYZ they would get anything they wanted. (Not to mention that the nations around them used sex, drugs, and power in their worship, these things still turn heads today.)

Stay with me here. When we really mess up at work or with our spouse. Lets say you cheated on your girlfriend. What do you do when you feel the guilt afterwards? You go by flowers, you get a card, maybe you take them out to eat at a special place. You increase the good things you do to try to win back or at least salve your conscience. If we got caught we might really grovel and straiten up. So what do you do when you sin against the God of Heaven? We buy indulgences. We might give more to the Church, read the bible more, go on a weekend mission trip, pray for hours on end, fast, or whip ourselves.

ARE WE SUCH FOOLS? Is God so simple, shallow, blind that we can control him somehow by buying His grace? Can we conjure him up and use some tool (sacrifice) to get things from Him? Can we commit adultery with the world and then come home to Church on Sunday and expect Him to not be angry?

God is trying to wake us up. He will use whatever is at his disposal in our lives to turn our hearts and minds to Him. What does he wand from us, love, mercy, and acknowledgment of God in our lives. To live differently. To walk with God.

There are two sides to God. One is love, grace, and mercy. This is the side those in a relationship with God see. The side those who return to God see. AND there is the other side of God one of justice, anger, and punishment. This is the side you see when you try to control God. When your love is like dew (very temporary) and you do not keep the covenant, there is only punishment.

God bless. Keep the faith. Return.

Where am I Coming From

Seems like I have been a little preachy lately. I am. I am angry. Especially at myself. So often I find I have become so busy with life and crap that I forget God. I look up and am off on some deserted path lost. The things in this world are so appealing. They draw my focus away from God. I know you can relate. If not then I am not talking to you anyway. Go read some posts about the older brother.

My feelings are fueled to by some of my new reading. I have been reading from the prophets in the Old Testament. Talk about eye opening. Oh, my. If you think Jesus came to bring a new message from God you should spend some time in the prophets. God is trying to teach a very stubborn people all about mercy and obedience.

God has picked these few men to try to warn his people about their sin. Sin they have committed against their relationship with God. God has been faithful, he has been there, taken care of them, saved them, provided and loved. However, the people, chose to go find security  from other sources. They began to worship idols, sacrifice to other gods. I found it interesting that at one point God accuses them of going into the hills to sacrifice to foreign gods and then immediately going to the Temple to sacrifice too. Needless to say He was not happy.

Do we go worship other things and then go to Church on Sunday to worship God like nothing is going on? Do we try to hide our sin from God and think he is not aware of our deception?

Another thing I have found interesting is the idea that God is something to appease. The thought goes like this, “God asked for these sacrifices to make him happy. Lets make more sacrifices to get him to give us more.” Or today, “We have to go to Church to make God happy, I have to give lots of money to God so he will bless me.”

How more wrong could they be. God wanted to be their God. He wanted them to love him, know him, rely on him, ACT like Him. Over and over he told them through the prophets their sacrifices were detestable. I think this is because their hearts were so far away from God.

I cannot give lip service to God. It will not work. God is not someone you can conger, control, or appease. He is God. We cannot deal with him, make promises to Him or buy Him. He is God. We cannot cheat on him, we cannot find Him anywhere except how He has planed for us to approach Him. He is God.

Sorry, preachin’ again. God has revealed himself in his word. Am I listening. Are you?

Who Can You Believe?

Well there is no doubt the political winds are blowing. Now that super Tuesday has passed there is no end of news, commentary, and pontification. Across the board amongst all the candidates there is an overwhelming need to convince the general populous each is more believable than their opponent. In both political parties there is a lot of doubt about who their candidate will be or if the party will be happy with the final choices.

Who can you believe? Well I assure you not too many who walk this planet are believable. Jesus knew this and refused to accept man’s praise or acclaim.

 36“I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. 37And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41“I do not accept praise from men, 42but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? John 5:36-44

The Jews would not accept who Jesus was. They wanted to kill him. (John 5:16-18) To their credit, they were having a hard time trying to decide who to believe. They listened to the religious leaders of their day. They read the scriptures and had preconceived ideas about how things should be. Jesus did not fit. Jesus still does not fit.

I am amazed at how far the world has gone from Jesus. Even religious leaders refused to believe who he was. They want to hold to his teaching, study the bible, and explain away the hard things.  It’s like they really do not believe that God is real. They work real hard to get the praise of men forgetting that the whole point is to know God and be known by him.

Does Jesus know you? Do you have the love of God in your heart?

God bless.