The Fear of Death; April 14, 2021

Acts 2:25 “David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.'”

I think it’s significant that David was given the privilege of prophesying about his most important Descendant. It is also notable that Peter, an uneducated fisherman, could quote blocks of Scripture like this. Whereas it’s true that rote memorization of Scripture was far more a part of the culture in those days, it is undeniable that the same Holy Spirit who had just been poured out on the believers guided Peter in exactly which Scriptures to use, both from Joel and from Psalms. The specific statement here is of great and timely relevance to us today. Many people today are indeed shaken, driven to fear by a real virus and false claims about it. Yesterday I watched a short video of Phil Robertson talking about how strange it is that so many genuine Christians, even, are controlled by a fear of death in these days, when everyone is going to die sometime, and believers have eternity to look forward to. That’s what this passage, quoted from Psalm 16, is all about. David didn’t have the proof of Jesus’ resurrection to give him assurance, but he had faith nonetheless, and that was enough. It is only logical that believers today, who have the whole record of the Bible and 2000 years of history since, should have total peace by doing what David says here: looking to the Lord. It is a sign of the devil’s deception that so many fail to walk in that peace.

I don’t think I’ve ever had much fear of death. That manifested in a moment of great self-centeredness when I was in college, when I lay down on the floor and started a self-hypnosis routine to slow and then stop my heart and my breathing, with every intention of dying. I knew it was possible, because a Japanese friend (?!) had almost killed me with such a hypnosis routine when I was in the 10th grade, and I was actually quite good at hypnosis at this point. However, the Lord spoke to me, saying “Don’t do that,” and I did abandon the procedure and go back to living. (Incidentally, I don’t do hypnosis at all at this point, because it is manipulating a person’s will, and human free will is so precious that Jesus died to preserve it.) I have been present for many people’s deaths, and it has been tragic only when the person has not been a believer. I grieved when each of my parents died, but it was for my own loss of fellowship with them in this earth; I knew full well that they had gone to great joy and reward. I am concerned about my own death at this point only in how it will affect those I leave behind. I will confess that I hardly look forward to my wife’s death, but that is entirely because of my own loss in this life, rather than any fear for her. After all, she’s already been to heaven once and come back, and she knows how wonderful it is! I am not to be satisfied with my own assurance of salvation, but rather seek to bring as many people along with me as possible. I’ve already written a statement to be read at my funeral, inviting people to acknowledge Jesus as Lord so that they will eventually be able to join me with Him. World events and personal events do tend to shake me at times, but I must remember this truth that David knew.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for having me run across that video yesterday. I pray that I too would be an instrument for You to lead others to faith and assurance, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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The Gift of Tongues; April 13, 2021

Acts 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

This was a watershed moment in human history, not to mention the history of the Church. (Actually, it was the birth of the Church.) From an objective viewpoint, it is fascinating that the phenomenon experienced here, of ignorant Galileans speaking in languages they had never learned, has been so controversial and divisive. Two days ago I wrote about how this gift requires a release of control on the part of the one exercising it, and we don’t like to be out of control, as we think of it. That’s why some people insist on calling this “ecstatic speech,” rather than “other languages” as the Greek clearly says. (Incidentally, it’s helpful that the Japanese term for “the gift of tongues” is very very clearly “other/alien language.”) Paul implies that the languages spoken may not all be human (1 Corinthians 13:1), and the person speaking will most likely not recognize what language they are using, but there are many documented cases of what is being said being understood perfectly by native speakers of that language. We have had two experiences of that ourselves. In one case, a friend who had never been out of Virginia was ministering deliverance to a woman troubled by an evil spirit, and he started saying “Get out! Get out! Get out!” over and over very rapidly – in Japanese, of which I am a native speaker. He was saying it faster than I could have! Another experience was when we had a group of Filipina trainees for a Japanese company here in Omura (over 20 years ago). Cathy went to their dormitory once a week to hold a prayer meeting with them, and in one time of group prayer she was praying quietly in tongues, when the girls became very excited. It turned out she was praying for them in Tagalog, which she certainly doesn’t speak! To this day, several of them are convinced she is a fluent speaker of Tagalog, but it still makes no sense to her. The point is, this event on the Day of Pentecost was a fulfillment of what Jesus had said in Acts 1:8. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and immediately began “declaring the wonders of God” (verse 11) to people “from every nation under heaven,” (verse 5) in their own languages. That’s something worth doing!

As I have shared many times, my own experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit was rather different, and the confirmation that it had occurred was my sharing Christ with a total stranger in Japanese, which I certainly understood at the time. However, I did receive the gift of tongues a couple of months later, to my great satisfaction, because I wanted a tool to be able to pray when my intellect had no idea how to do so. On one occasion, in a small prayer group, I was used to speak out something in a language that sounded Eastern European. Words were very distinct, and very strongly spoken. When I finished, all three of us present were somewhat shaken, and I said, “I’m glad that wasn’t addressed to me!” I had the distinct impression that I had uttered a Word of correction and admonition to someone, and that they had heard those words in a dream or vision. I don’t have any Biblical examples of that so I certainly can’t be dogmatic about it, but I do know that God can do anything at all, and that’s what I feel happened. Today, tongues are a frequent part of my prayer life, but not something I use in church services, or generally in front of other people. I am grateful for the gift, but any spiritual gift is meaningless if I don’t exercise it in obedience to and fellowship with the Lord who gave it to me.

Father, thank You for Your overwhelming grace in so many areas. I feel that You indeed want to pour Your Spirit out on this church, and I pray that would happen soon. May we have hearts fully open to whatever You want to do in and through us, for the advancement of Your kingdom and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Siblings; April 12, 2021

Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Thinking about it, this verse tells us a great deal. In the first place it tells us that the women were fully accepted, which was downright scandalous in the society of the day. In the second place it tells us that Mary was given special recognition. I do think Catholics go too far in various ways in their veneration of her, but there’s no denying she was a special individual. In the third place, and most interestingly for me, there is the evidence that from this point Jesus’ siblings were believers. A few years down the line James became the leader of the Jerusalem Church, as mentioned both in Acts and in Paul’s letters, and Jude contributed a letter to the New Testament. However, they had previously found it impossible to believe that their big brother was actually the Messiah of God. (John 7:5) Paul indicates that James got a private visit, as had Peter, (1 Corinthians 15:7) but it was after Jesus had confirmed His resurrection to those who had followed Him from the beginning. Blood ties are important, but they aren’t as important as the ties of faith and obedience. We today have no genetic connection to Jesus, but the Bible tells us He calls us His brothers. (Hebrews 2:11) Jesus’ physical brothers weren’t perfect, and neither are we. We need to walk in faith and obedience, appreciative of His grace, for His glory alone.

I am blessed to have older physical siblings, so I understand that dynamic. At the same time, I have many spiritual older siblings, and I am in turn an older brother to many. Yesterday the message was on how the Church is an organism, rather than just an organization, and we sang a great deal about how we are a family. That’s not just platitudes! Our business meeting in the afternoon was indeed a family affair, even though three nationalities were represented. At this point Cathy and I are senior in terms both of physical age and length of commitment to Christ, but that’s of relatively small importance. We are one family, and we are to support and encourage and admonish one another, growing together as part of the Body of Christ, for His glory alone.

Father, thank You indeed for all You did yesterday. Thank You that the business meeting was friendly and constructive and downright enjoyable! Thank You for the large group we had in the service, courtesy of all the people from Takeo. Thank You especially for the forward-looking plans we made, and how everyone seemed to own them. I pray that we would indeed move forward on every level as You intend, bringing many into Your family for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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The Baptism in the Holy Spirit; April 11, 2021

Acts 1:4-5 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus wanted His disciples to be equipped and empowered. He didn’t want them trying to build His kingdom on their own, because He knew they couldn’t do it. The best they could have come up with would have been their own kingdoms, and that never ends well. At this point they were thinking a lot about the kingdom of Israel, as the very next verse tells us. After all, Jesus had just conquered death, so what was more natural than for Him to now conquer Rome? Just like the people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, they still had a distorted image of what God’s kingdom was all about. This is a very relevant issue at this very moment, because many earnest Christians are very involved in the political situation in the US. It isn’t at all that God doesn’t care about such things, or that it isn’t appropriate for Christians to be involved, but we’ve got to remember that human governments are never to be equated with God’s kingdom. We are to be focused on God’s kingdom and His righteousness, (Matthew 6:33) seeking for that to be manifested on earth just as Jesus taught us to pray, (Matthew 6:9-13) but not confusing that with human politics. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is indeed about power, as verse 8 so famously says, but it is even more about giving God full control of everything, and most specifically, ourselves. In my opinion that’s the reason the gift of tongues is so prevalent after the baptism in the Holy Spirit: it requires relinquishing control over our speech, which is one of the most intimately personal things about us. In that gift, we control whether we speak, but we have no control over what we speak. Actually, prophecy should be the same way, but since it is in a language known to the speaker, human control is all too prone to slip in. The Bible has a lot to say about “prophesying” human imaginations! We tend to desire God’s power to be operative in our lives, but we fail to be fully submissive to Him ourselves, and that blocks the flow. We must remember that it is His kingdom that is to come, not our own, though we are citizens of that kingdom.

This is totally applicable to me. I was slow to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit because I wanted to receive it on my terms. When I let go, it happened! That said, I didn’t initially receive the gift of tongues, precisely because that had been one of the conditions that I had set! Rather, with no emotional impact on me whatsoever, God enabled me to share Christ with a total stranger, and I realized that He had been true to His Word and had made me to be a witness. At this point I earnestly desire that the Holy Spirit be poured out on this congregation, but I can’t make that happen. However, it is the Father’s promise, and I can be cooperative. Most of all, I need to be careful to yield full control of myself to God, so that I won’t quench the Spirit in however He wants to use me.

Father, as I drove around to bless the churches this morning it was very exciting to see that at least two pastors are preaching on this chapter this morning, with one sermon title being “Christ’s Witnesses,” from verse 8, and one being “The Father’s Promise,” from this verse. Neither of those churches has been “Charismatic” to this point! I pray that You would indeed pour Your Spirit out on every congregation, every believer in this city, that we may together rise up, a mighty army, for the salvation of this nation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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The Great Commission; April 10, 2021

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It would be hard for me to specify a Scripture passage that I am more familiar with than this one. Born and raised in a missionary family, we breathed the Great Commission! That said, there is always more the Lord can speak to us from any passage, because He is infinite. In the first place, this is based on Jesus’ authority. We are all too prone to imagine that authority is based in human sources, either government or sometimes academia. However, as the Founding Fathers of America recognized, authority and everything that comes from it originates in God. That is fundamentally different from any atheistic system of government. As the Roman Centurion recognized, lesser authority is dependent on submission to higher authority. (Luke 7:1-10) That affects every area of our lives. As James pointed out, we can’t hope to resist the devil successfully unless we are submitted to God. (James 4:7) When Jesus has all authority, then obedient submission to Him allows that authority to flow through us. The next point is what we are to do with that authority, and here Jesus is very clear. We aren’t to “make converts,” whatever that means; we are to make disciples. The whole area of discipleship is a lifetime study, but here Jesus gives us the outline. We are to start by baptizing people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Too often we stop there! The same sentence goes on to say that we are to teach them to obey everything that Jesus has taught us. The catch there is that we aren’t going to be very effective teachers if we aren’t obeying Christ in our daily lives ourselves. To make disciples, we need to be disciples! The good news is, we don’t have to rely on our own strength to get it done. If that were the case it flat wouldn’t happen, and that is all too often what happens. It’s not that power and wisdom aren’t available, it’s that we don’t reach out to receive what we need. Here Jesus famously says that He is with us always. That assurance has enabled believers to do humanly impossible things, all the way through triumphant martyrdom. It is when we recognize and delight in our dependence on God that we accomplish all that He intends for us, for His glory.

This is both applicable and timely. This year marks 40 years we’ve been in Omura as missionaries, and to this point results have been spotty at best. Just in recent weeks there have been various things that have pointed to explosive growth, from dreams to impressions to encounters. Just yesterday I discovered that the man next to me on a train was from Kazakhstan! This church has been international from the beginning, but that was a first from Central Asia. Tomorrow we will have our annual business meeting and will be discussing some outreach projects that have great potential. 40 years ago I would have been truly excited about all of this, but right now I need emotional rejuvenation! I think God needed me to get over myself, to realize on the deepest levels that I can’t do any of this on my own. At the same time I need to have faith, again on the deepest levels, that He CAN do it. Like Moses, I will need to learn to delegate, but I must never shirk what is my responsibility. We don’t know in any detail what God has planned, but I’ve got to remain assured that He can and will bring His plans to fruition.

Father, it’s very interesting that this is happening just as I am becoming more and more aware of my own limitations. Thank You. Help me not get in Your way, but allow Your Spirit to flow through me unhindered, to bring the harvest that You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Covetousness; April 9, 2021

John 21:22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

We get so involved with what God is doing to or for or with other people! Our focus is to be on our Lord and our obedience to Him. One of the most poisonous things in society today is jealousy, which is actively stoked by people who aim to tear society down. Even the poorest person in the US today lives a much easier life than very wealthy people did not very long ago, but rather than being grateful for that, we are encouraged to resent those who seem to have more than we do. It could not be any clearer that is a ploy of the devil to destroy our peace and happiness, because gratitude is fundamental to those things. Some people wonder why God specified the 10th of the 10 Commandments: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17) They say, “That goes against human nature! Everybody covets what they don’t have!” That is a lie from the devil. There is a huge difference between, “That’s nice. I’d like it too,” and “I want that, so I’ll take it from him.” “Equality” sounds very nice, but many political movements over the past couple of centuries have worked toward equality of misery. That’s precisely what “critical race theory” is working toward, pitting people against each other and fomenting hatred not only of others but of yourself. That’s the devil, wearing academic credentials instead of horns. Peter and John were as “inner circle” with Jesus as you could get, yet they too were tempted to comparisons, and Jesus nipped it in the bud. John was the only one of the original 12 apostles to die a natural death, living well past 90, so the rumor that sprung up from Jesus’ remark here was natural. From the earlier statements about Peter’s death (verses 18-19) it’s clear that Peter had already been martyred when John wrote this. That could well have contributed to John’s urgency in getting this recorded. In any case, Jesus’ instructions to both Peter and John, and to us, were “Follow me.”

This naturally applies to me, as it does to everyone. Some people have been amazed at how much I seem to enjoy life (and I do) but I think my “secret” is very simple: I recognize that I am enormously blessed by the grace of God. There are things I would like that I don’t have, but I recognize that they are insignificant in the long run. I also know that the good stuff God has for me in no way detracts from what He has prepared for others, and vice versa. The devil tries to convince us that it’s a “zero sum game,” that someone else having means I don’t have, but that’s an absolute lie. That’s the root of covetousness! I am to be generous, knowing that my Father always has more, and He will pour to me and through me all that is necessary. As a pastor and counselor I seek to help others to that understanding, but it’s often an uphill slog against the world and the devil. Only God’s truth, communicated by His Spirit, can set people free from the devil’s lies.

Father, thank You for this strong reminder. Help me indeed walk in gratitude and help others to do likewise, to that the devil may be defeated indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Recognizing Jesus; April 8, 2021

John 21:7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

What a transformation! We have no record of what happened when Jesus appeared personally to Peter after the resurrection (Luke 24:34), but Don Francisco has given us an anointed song that paints what I feel is a very realistic picture, called He’s Alive. In any case, the disciple who denied three times that he even knew Jesus is here risking drowning just to get near Jesus. The awareness and conviction of forgiveness is transforming. I really feel John added this last chapter to his Gospel to give us more insight into Peter, as well as to quell a rumor that had come up about John, which he deals with in the last half of the chapter. This also gives us a further picture of Jesus after the resurrection We don’t know what it was about His appearance that made some people uncertain as to his identity. Cleopas and his friend at first didn’t recognize Him as they walked to Emmaus, (Luke 24:14-16) Here verse 12 indicates that whereas “They knew it was the Lord,” His physical appearance might have left some doubt. I think it’s significant that John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” was the first to recognize Him. It’s also significant that Peter immediately took John’s word for it! We too have trouble recognizing Jesus in our daily lives, but love is essential for that recognition. We get all caught up in circumstances, forgetting the very true saying that “Everything God does is love, whatever it looks like.” When we are assured of God’s love, we can recognize that He will never allow anything in our lives that He can’t use for good. (Romans 8:28) The private audience with Jesus after His resurrection completely convinced Peter that he was loved, and he spent the rest of his life living in response to that love. We could do no better.

I’ve never seen Jesus with my physical eyes, nor even had a vision of Him, but I have been very aware of Him on a number of occasions, and the impact has been undeniable. The point is not to compartmentalize those experiences as something in the past, but to live in expectation of His presence all the time. After all, He said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18) I am to keep my spiritual eyes peeled, so to speak, to recognize Him however He chooses to interact with me. As a pastor I find that very few people have any expectation of interacting with Jesus, and it’s sad. I was talking with someone just yesterday about regular devotions being a way to hear from the Lord daily, and it was like I was talking about a different world. Actually, I was, but we need to be operating in the spirit world more and more (2 Corinthians 5:7), because “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) I need the help of the Holy Spirit to lift the believers’ eyes off of the physical to indeed see Jesus in all His love, mercy, and glory, in order to follow Him completely.

Father, thank You for this clear Word. I too need to grow in faithfulness to keep my eyes on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2) Help me be Your agent more and more consistently, so that Your grace, mercy, and love may flow through me to all with whom I come in contact, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Fulfilling the Purposes of God; April 7, 2021

John 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Here we have the motivation for John writing his Gospel, and John’s desire has been magnificently fulfilled over the centuries. By writing last, he picked up a lot of things that weren’t covered by the other Gospel writers, and in the process penned what is probably the most famous verse in the whole Bible. John wanted to be an instrument of the blessing he recorded Jesus saying in verse 29: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” There were those who saw the risen Christ and still doubted (Matthew 28:17), but there were and are many more who read or hear the words recorded in the Bible and do believe, and so receive eternal life. Those who have believed need to keep spreading the message so that more and more may believe!

This is obviously vital to me, since I have dedicated my life as a missionary. However, I feel I deserve no special credit, because, as Paul said, Christ’s love compels me. (2 Corinthians 5:14) When I fail to speak what God has spoken to me, I feel like Jeremiah did: “But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9) There are those who are tired of hearing me talk, and indeed I have a tendency to overload my hearers. I do think the Lord is helping me grow in that area, however! That said, it is a marvelous privilege to share the Word of the Lord, the Truth that sets people free if they will receive it. (John 8:32) My challenge at this point is in equipping the believers so that they too may share the truth that they have received, being strengthened in their faith even as they share it with others. I believe the Lord is bring this church to a point of great breakthrough, to be the embassy of the kingdom of God that He wants us to be. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Father, thank You for this strong reminder, and for all that You are doing in, around, and through us in these days. Thank You for the start You are giving me today in active mentoring of one believer. I pray that he would indeed rise to the challenge and grow and serve as You desire and intend. I pray that every believer in this church would recognize the gifts You have placed in them and rejoice to return them to You in active service, so that we may be the active, healthy part of the Body of Christ that You intend us to be, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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God’s Timing; April 6, 2021

Luke 24:49 “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

God’s plans and His promises are magnificent, but they are on His schedule. That can be a very hard thing for us to accept at times. We get a Scripture and try to run with it and end up making a mess of things. Quite a few people have had their faith severely damaged as a result. It is rare that God gives us specific time schedules, though it does happen, as in Jesus rising on the third day. On this particular occasion the delay between the promise and the fulfillment was seven weeks, but when God promised the return of the Jews from Babylon, the period was 70 years! For that matter, we sometimes forget that there were hundreds of years between the various prophecies of the Messiah and the point when He actually was born in Bethlehem. Peter was spot on when he reminded us, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9) However, we must not forget the flip side of that, that God can do all sorts of things seemingly at once, they happen so fast. We aren’t to be impatient, but neither are we to lag behind when He says to move. There are various things happening that have convinced a lot of people that we are indeed in the Last Days, and that could well be. At the same time, God’s plans don’t just deal with “the sweep of history,” so to speak, but with each individual. We are to seek Him for what we are to do now, not just wait passively for whatever to happen. And then, there’s the whole issue of false prophesies. I won’t go into the heretical movements that have been spawned by such things. We are to hold onto God’s promises, knowing they will be fulfilled but not trying to dictate to God exactly when that will happen. He’s more than able to handle it all!

I have felt for quite a few years that a moment would come when suddenly this church would grow massively in numbers. It feels like that could even be starting right now, and frankly, it’s scary. All sorts of things are happening, and we have little or no control over it all. That’s a good thing! I need to be focused on my Lord and let Him be in control, knowing that He can handle it, and that I most certainly can’t. I am to listen carefully and obey faithfully, knowing that His plans are good, however different they might be from what I would have dreamed up. I need to recognize those God has designated for different tasks and trust them with those tasks, while supporting and encouraging them along the way. That’s very, very different from me doing it all, which is how I’ve tended to operate in the past. God’s timing is perfect, and I’ve got to rest, relax, and rejoice in it.

Father, thank You for this clear, timely (!) Word. Help me not lag behind, much less run away, but also not go off on any tangents or try to make things happen on my own. May Your name be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, in and through me and this church, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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God’s Truth; April 5, 2021

Luke 24:25-27 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

What we wouldn’t give to have a recording of all that Jesus told those two men! However, we do have the Bible, and we have the Holy Spirit to explain it to us. The bigger issue is that like those men, our hearts are dull and slow to believe. It’s interesting that political correctness was a total non-issue. Jesus was downright blunt! We are so afraid of giving offense, and so quick to take it, that truth often gets lost in the process. We are certainly to speak in love, but we are also to speak truth, and not platitudes or flattery. (Ephesians 4:15) We are to seek truth, whether it is comfortable or not, and we are to be unstinting in sharing it. We need to be hungry for truth, because Jesus said that He Himself is the truth. (John 14:6) Too often we get “fed up” with truth and don’t want any more. That’s because we haven’t digested what we’ve received and made it part of us. Just as we aren’t interested in more food immediately after a big meal, failure to appropriate truth leaves us unable to take in more. Here too we need the help of the Holy Spirit as a “digestive aid,” so to speak. Also to carry the metaphor further, we constantly take in things that are not God’s truth and are even contrary to it, and those things need to be eliminated. We can’t take in much of God’s truth when we are “stopped up” with junk! We need consistent spiritual nutrition, which is why we need to read the Bible daily, not as obligation, legalistically, but asking and allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate it to our hearts and illuminate our hearts with it. The more we do that, the more appetite we will have for all that God wants to speak to us.

I’m speaking to myself! I love to take in information, which is to say, I have a huge appetite. Reading news and reading fiction aren’t bad, but that must always be on the foundation of the Word. I’ve got to let the Holy Spirit filter what I actually take in, and help me eliminate that which is not beneficial. As a Teacher I love to feed others, so I need to be very careful to give them only pure food, not polluted by humanistic thinking – even mine. I am to prepare and present it as attractively as possible, at a rate that people can assimilate. I have a tendency to overload my hearers! I also need to help the believers understand and believe that they too can share God’s truth with others, and equip them to do so. (Ephesians 4:12) God wants His truth to go out, so that multitudes may be set free! (John 8:32)

Father, thank You for this timely Word. Thank You for yesterday and all it held. Thank You especially that the afternoon program went so well. Thank You for the joy the adults had in participating for the sake of the children. Thank You that the children genuinely seemed to have a good time, and that their parents responded well too. I do ask for clear guidance as we ramp up a consistent children’s ministry, that children and parents alike may be drawn into Your family, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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