On the Side of Truth

I don’t remember a time in my life when it was as hard to tell what is true as it is right now.  COVID is real but I don’t believe the numbers.  I don’t believe the election numbers- I think they have been and are being manipulated.  I don’t believe what I see on the news.  There are too many hidden agendas, too much sensationalism.

It’s just not the truth.

It’s very important to me to base my life and decisions on the truth – not on false numbers and fake news.  So I love hearing Jesus say, “Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)

Amen.

Jesus is the Truth.  God’s Word is the Truth.  The Holy Spirit is living inside of me, explaining the truth and my soul resonates when it hears the truth.  My spirit connects with Jesus as he speaks the truth to me through his Word.

God calls this discernment.  Discernment is being able to judge well – is this true or false?  Is this right or wrong?  Discernment is much easier when I know God’s Word.   Does what I’m hearing or reading line up with God’s Word?

Discernment is a skill we all desperately need today as the amount of lies in our culture grows.  Our first question when hearing news or stories should be, “Is it true?”

Even in church, this needs to be our first question.  I have heard things in church supposedly quoted from the Bible that are not in Bible.  It’s usually just a mistake, not manipulation, but it’s still not true.  Have you ever heard the phrase – “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle”?  Not in the Bible.  The Truth is that he does give us more than we can handle by ourselves.  He uses these situations to motivate us to turn back to him so he can teach us the truth about our dependence on him.

To have discernment, I need to know God’s Word.  I need to know the truth so that I can recognize it and not believe the lies.

That’s what my Journey Towards the Truth is all about.  Thank you for joining me.

Please give me discernment, Abba Father. I really need it in the world of lies I live in.

 

 

He Prayed for Me

And he prayed for you.

One of my favorite things about the Chronological Bible is I am reading about Jesus’ last days before his crucifixion in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

It’s so appropriate!

The holiday reminds me to be thankful and God’s Word reminds me of the most important thing to be thankful for – Christ’s sacrifice for me.

For God so loved the world that he sent his only son…

forgiveness for my rebellion and sin.

Life everlasting with my Abba Father.

I love reading the words Jesus prayed the night before his crucifixion.  He prayed for us!  “For those who will believe in me’ through the message of his disciples. (John 17:20)

We know the Truth because the disciples faithfully shared with others the Truth they had seen and heard.   And we pay it forward by sharing what we have seen and heard about the Truth with others…

in gratitude for what Christ did for us.

May we be found faithful witnesses to your love and grace, Abba Father.

Words that Changed My Life

They challenged me.

They held me accountable for what I had been saying my entire life.

About 30 years ago while reading my Bible, I heard Jesus say these words to me,

“If you love me, keep my commands”.(John14:15)

If I loved him?  I was shocked.  I had been saying I loved Jesus since I was old enough to talk.  I was brought up in a Christian family who lived out their faith in a small Christian town.  For much of my childhood, I thought everyone was a Christian because everyone in my life went to church.

I remember seriously being in love with Jesus when I was younger.  I read my Bible and talked to him all of the time.  Somewhere along the way, I slipped into being more of a ‘cultural Christian’ than actually having a relationship with God.  I went to church, I served at church, I gave money to the church, I participated in small group Bible studies and I talked about loving Jesus but God really didn’t have a big place in my daily life.   My Bible was gathering dust, but I still said I loved Jesus.

Then the Holy Spirit convicted me with these words, “If you love me, keep my commands.”  He made it clear to me that he wasn’t talking about the 10 commandments in the Old Testament.  Jesus had fulfilled all of the old law and given me two new commandments.  Only two.

The first – I need to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my mind and all my soul.  The second – love others as myself.

These are it.  Everything else falls under these two commandments.

The Holy Spirit told me if I really loved Jesus, I would strive to keep these two commandments.  If I didn’t start sincerely trying to obey these two, I needed to stop saying I loved Jesus.

I was blown away!  I had never taken the commandment to love God first seriously.  I was a wife and a working mother of two small kids at the time.  I had so many responsibilities and things to do I just couldn’t imagine adding all the stuff it would take to love God first!

But there was no way I was going to stop saying I loved Jesus.  No way.   I knew it was a part of who I was at the center of my soul.  So I was going to have to try loving God first and figure it out as I went.

It didn’t take me long to realize when I put God first, he helped me with everything else.  He helped me be a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter and sister, a better employee, a better boss, a better friend – he made my entire life better.  Putting him first in my life made my existence so much more meaningful and ‘worth it’.  He filled the empty spots in my heart and made me whole.

When I put God first in my life, he taught me how to love others.  As my life filled with his love, it overflowed to those around me.  I didn’t have to try to obey the second command – it naturally happened as the love of my Father transformed me from the inside out.

One verse piercing my soul through the Holy Spirit changed the trajectory of my entire life.  It put me on the path I am on today – loving God with my whole heart, soul and mind and loving others.

Thank you for opening my eyes to your Truth, Abba Father.

How Can I Know the Way?

How do I figure out my next step?

How do I know who to believe?

How do I decide which way to go?

These are all tough questions with important answers.

Thomas asked Jesus this same question after Jesus told him he was going away to prepare a place for the disciples.  Thomas replies, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5)

Jesus replied, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

Jesus is the Way.

I’m not going to choose the right path without him.  I’m not going to know what to believe unless I know the Truth.  I’m going to wander and end up places I don’t want to be if I don’t follow the Way.

It’s just that simple –

and that complicated.

I need to commit each day to following him,

commit each hour to believing in him,

and I need to commit each minute to trusting him if I really want to know the Way.

Please guide each of us in the right Way, Abba Father.

How Far?

How far away from God am I?

What about you?

Jesus had many confrontations with the Teachers of the Law while he was here on earth.  They were legalists and held the word of God over people’s heads like a hammer.

You did that wrong – Bam!!

You did that wrong – Bam!!

Jesus was all about grace and truth and many of the teachers and leaders at that time were about power and personal agendas.

Sound familiar?

So it’s very interesting to read about a positive conversation Jesus had with a Teacher of the Law the book of Mark.  The Teacher asked Jesus which of the commandments was the most important – they had over 600 at this time.  Jesus told him that loving God and loving others were the top two.

The Teacher then agreed with Jesus saying, “You are right”.  And Jesus said, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  (Mark 12:34).

Translation – “You got this!”

In the middle of all the other Pharisees and Sadducees and Teachers of the Law who hated Jesus and wanted to kill him, here was a man who understood.  He believed that loving God and loving others were the two most important things.  Everyone around him was off track as they spent their time and energy on the less important  laws.

This teacher got it.

And I want to be like him.  As the world around me gets more and more confused, angry and judgemental, I plan to stay focused on these two things –

loving God,

and loving others.

My goal is to continually grow closer to God and live my life less and less like the messy culture swirling around me.  I’m moving closer to the Kingdom of God.

I invite you to come with me.

Thank you for your truth and guidance, Abba Father.

Children of the Light

“Believe in the light,”  Jesus tells us today, “while you have the light.  So you may become children of the light.” (John 12:36).

When I believed in Jesus and put my faith in him as my Savior, I became a Child of the Light because Jesus is the Light of the World.

What does it mean to be a Child of the Light?

Jesus shines his grace and love into my life every day.  He walks beside me, explaining his Word and helping me grow in my understanding of the truth.

When the darkness of the world around me presses in, his hope and strength guide me forward on the right path.  Jesus fills the emptiness inside of me and makes me whole.  He gives me a purpose to press on.  His light shines peace and power into the circumstances of my life which are painful and heartbreaking.

Jesus loves me with an unconditional love that is not found anywhere else on this earth.  I know the end of this story – Jesus has already claimed victory over sin and death – and this truth resonates with my soul.  My ‘forever home’ is not here and I’m especially thankful for that recently with all the craziness and evil and confusion going on around me.

My ‘forever home’ is in heaven.

My heart is already there.

I love you, Jesus.

How Much More

She knocked….

and knocked……

and knocked….

on the door of an unjust judge.  Until he gave in and gave her justice.

How much more will my Father God, who loves me, give me when I ask?

How much more does he have waiting for me when I pray and never give up?

The parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18 changed my life.  It’s the answer to the question, “What am I supposed to do?” when I’m stuck, when I’m frustrated.  What am I supposed to do when all of the wrong answers are swirling around in my head?

Now, I know.  When I’m in those situations, I remember the Persistent widow and it reminds me that God has all of the right answers.

I just need to ask.  And keep asking.  And keep asking.

I ask knowing he will answer.  I ask knowing that he will guide me in the next step.  I ask knowing that he has determined the right path for my life.  I ask because I know he has chosen me and he has great plans for me.

As I persist in seeking God…

asking….

believing….

knowing….

he always answers.  Always.  Because he loves me and only wants the best for me.

When I have something big going on – something scary – something overwhelming….I pray.

And I keep praying.

I have had some very memorable days in my life which started in despair and fear and confusion but ended in peace with a plan and a smile because God answered my 200+ prayers that day.  He didn’t change the situation.  He changed my thinking, my perspective, my goal.  He reminded me that he is in control.

When I persist in turning to God for wisdom, direction and strength he gives me all that I need and much more.

Thank you, Abba Father.

I want to be…

like the Samaritan Leper.

He came back to Jesus after Jesus healed him.  He came back praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.  He was one of ten lepers that Jesus healed in Luke 17 as he travelled to Jerusalem.  Jesus healed them all and this man was the only one that came back to say thank you.

Jesus had redeemed the leper’s life from pain and death.  And the leper came back to show his gratitude for what Jesus had done for him.

Jesus has done the same thing for me.   He redeemed me from hopelessness, death and eternal separation from the only source of good things in this universe – our Father God.

After reading this passage many years, ago, I decided to start all of my prayers with thanking God for who he is and what he has done for me.  I still do this today and I find it puts me in the right mindset to have great conversations with God.  He has already done so much for me – lavishing his love on me, forgiving my rebellion and self-centeredness, pouring his blessings down on me, giving me purpose and peace…..I could go on.  So starting every prayer with ‘thank you’ helps me avoid the trap of treating him like Santa Claus and going down my list of ‘prayer requests’.

For the rest of my life here on this planet, I will be like the leper who came back to say ‘thank you’.  I will live my life in gratitude to God.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

He Speaks…..

and I hear him.

I can call him God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit – these are all names I use for the One True God who talks to me.

How do I hear him?

When Jesus tells us about being our good Shepherd in the book of John, he gives us the key to hearing him.  The Shepherd leads his sheep “and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:27)  When we know his voice, we know who is talking to us and we can follow.

We all have voices in our heads….how do I know it’s his voice?

I read and study the Bible regularly.  Everything he tells me has to line up with what I read in his Word, or its not his voice.  If I hear something that contradicts what I read in the Bible, I know it’s either just my own voice or, even worse, Satan is busy whispering lies into my head again.

I hear God because I’m listening.  I hear God because I am genuinely searching for the truth.  I’m not looking for scriptures that support my opinions and agenda.  I’m studying so I can know God’s opinions and agenda.

I hear him because I know his voice.

Thank you, God, for leading me and speaking to me.

 

These Mountains are Moving

“By your faith”.

God pointed out to me this morning how often these words came out of Jesus’ mouth when he was here on earth.  “By your faith” pops up all through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Jesus is telling you and I today that faith is what matters.  I define faith as believing in God and putting my trust in him on an hourly, daily basis – not just on Sundays.

In Matthew, the disciples tried to drive a demon out of an epileptic boy but nothing happened.  Jesus walked up, commanded the demon to leave and it immediately screeched as it left the boy. Then Jesus told the disciples that they were unable to make the demon leave because they had ‘too little faith’.  Jesus goes on to say “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move.” (Matt 17:20)

I need to be reminded of this today.  Do you need to hear this, too?  There are some mountains in my life that need to move and Jesus is telling me that, through faith in God, nothing is impossible.

I believe this.  I’ve experienced this.  I know it is true.

Dear Father, I trust that you are going to move mountains through my faith in you.  Amen.