Posts Tagged ‘truth’

A Full Life

November 2, 2016

This past week I was reading the second epistle of John and I was struck by the third verse.

II John v3

 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

I.  Grace

Grace may be defined as receiving good things from God that we do not deserve, that we have not earned.  They are a gift.  I am reminded of Ephesians 2:8 which tells us that “By grace you are saved…”  God has reached out to us.  If we were left to ourselves, we would be lost in our sins.

I am also reminded of II Corinthians 12:9.

 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God’s grace is sufficient for us.  Whatever situation we face, whatever need we might have, God’s grace is sufficient for us.  God will give us what we need to do what He has called us to do.

II.  Mercy

Mercy may be defined as not receiving the punishment that we do deserve.  There are many verses on the mercy of God.  We recognize that we have all sinned and that the wages of sin is death.  However, God is merciful.

Psalms 103:8-14

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

On our part, we too, are to be merciful to others.  To not repay evil for evil.  To forgive those who have wronged us.  Even as we have received mercy, we should grant mercy.

III.  Peace

God offers to us a peace that is not dependent on the absence of external conflict.  The peace of God comes from the knowledge that God loves us, cares about us and is able to help us in our times of need.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid

IV.  Truth

John 8:31-32

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

I am reminded of when Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?”  I am also reminded of John 14:6 “ Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

If we are seeking truth, and if we are open to it, we  will eventually find God.  Ultimate Truth is found in God.

V.  Love

I John 4:7-11

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

As believers we can expect to have lives that are filled with the love of God.  Love that comes from God, and love that is expressed through the people of God.  Of course we are also expected to love God and others in return.

So in this one verse we are reminded that as Christians we should have lives that are filled with grace, mercy, peace, truth and love.  That makes for a full life indeed!

These are the notes from the sermon preached 10/30/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

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The Search for Truth and Love

September 8, 2015

As a philosophy instructor I have a particular appreciation for the search for truth.  This appreciation comes from the realization that truth is not as easily grasped as one might think.  The discovery of truth provides a bedrock foundation upon which we can build our understanding of life.

I.  Truth:  II John 1-3

The Elder,

To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

As I read these verses I am reminded that Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)  If we have placed our faith in Jesus then we are at the correct starting point.  Starting with a belief in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth.  (John 16:13)  In Jesus, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32)  I believe that throughout our life we can grow in our knowledge of the truth.  You could say that our life is a journey in search of the truth, which fits really well with a philosophers ‘love of wisdom’.  

II.  Love:  II John v5

And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.

As I read this verse I am reminded that the great commandments, according to Jesus, are to love God, and to love one another.  (Matthew 22:36-40)

I am also reminded of the line from the famous song by the Beatles “All you need is love…”

Love is a powerful force and a powerful motivator.  It is probably true that more people search for love than truth.

In Christ we find both.

III.  Obedience:  II John v6

This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

Unfortunately, we may lose a few people here.  People want to do their own thing.  They want to be independent.  However “doing it my way”  is not a good thing in the Christian walk.  We are to do things His way.  We are called to be obedient.  We do have the freedom to say no to Christ, but if we have given our lives to Christ, then He is both Savior and Lord.  If He is not our Lord, then neither is He our savior.  I John 5:3 says “ For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”  We are able to keep His commandments, not in our own strength, but because of the Spirit of God that dwells in us. 

IV.  Deceit:  II John v7

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

We must be careful in our search for truth.  There are those who would seek to deceive us and lead us away from the truth.

As we continue our journey through this life.  We can continue to grow in our knowledge of the truth.  We can grow in our love for God and for one another.  We can grow in our ability to be obedient to Christ, as we guard against the deceit that is in the world.

These are the sermon notes from 8/9/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

 

Plans, Promises, and Truthfulness

February 12, 2015

Years ago, when I started this blog, I wrote an article four times a week.  Those articles were about all kinds of different topics.  For quite a while now, I have been simply posting sermon notes.  I am going to try to get back to writing articles on a variety of topics.  The sermon notes will still come out on Mondays.  On Thursdays, I will be writing something different. At least, that is the plan.  Please feel free to make comments on anything that I write.  I enjoy interaction.  Thank you. 

Have you ever wondered what the world would look like if everyone was truthful?  If everyone kept their word?  If everyone kept their promises? This world would be a better place.

A number of years ago, I told my philosophy class that I tried to always tell the truth.  They laughed.  Apparently, they thought that I was lying, because, of course, everyone lies, at least in their minds. That memory has stayed with me as a sad commentary on society today.

I do not mean that we have to share every thought that goes through our minds. Some things we can keep to ourselves.

Sometimes, it is important to use tact when speaking the truth.  If we speak the truth with the right attitude, in the right way, at the right time,  it is a very good thing.  This is not always easy to do.

Wouldn’t it be nice if people kept their word?  If we tell someone we are going to do something, we should do it.  This is especially important in the business world.  If we hire someone to do some kind of work and they take the money but don’t do the work, then we are cheated.  On the other hand, if someone does the work, but isn’t paid, then they are cheated.  Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens far too often. It makes us suspicious of people.  Until someone has proven themselves, we may not trust them.

Promise keeping is especially important.  When my children were young, I wanted to impress on them the importance of keeping promises.  One way that I did that was to use promises very sparingly.  I would tell my children that I was planning to do something, but that sometimes plans have to change.  That way if something came up, and I had to change my plans, I was not breaking a promise.  When I did make a promise, I made sure that it was something that I could keep.

Incidentally, wedding vows are a form of promise.  For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, forsaking all others for as long as we both shall live.   This is not something to be taken lightly.  There may be bad days, but your commitment to each other should bring you through them.

Maybe we cannot transform the entire world, but we can change a little part of it.  May we learn to be truthful people who keep our word.

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Honest Questions

May 12, 2011

I remember when I was a young man attending a church that was fervent in the proclamation of the gospel.  They gave detailed directives for how one should follow Christ.  One day when I questioned some of the teachings I was told that “I should just accept what they are saying, because they were more mature in Christ.”

I accepted that comment at first. Then they started to change the rules.  If they changed, then they were not right at first, and so it was appropriate to question what was taught and to think for myself about what I believe, and why.

As a person in ministry I believe that honest questions about our faith deserve answers.  It has long been a part of my approach to ministry to allow people to ask any question that is on their mind or heart, that is pertinent to our Christian walk.

I believe that a sincere search for truth will eventually lead one to Christ, who said “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  John 14:6

The First Step

November 26, 2010

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  (Proverbs 9:10)

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, foe he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith is the initial premise to achieve true understanding.  Faith is not the conclusion to an argument.  When we interact with others we offer to them a relationship with Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  This offer is made through the Word of God, and is confirmed by the Spirit of God.  It is not achieved by logic, reason, or empirical proof; but by the Word, and the Spirit.  God has ordained that we must come to Him in faith, and then He will bring understanding as we grow in Him.

Faith is the first step that we take towards understanding.

Partial Truth

November 9, 2009

Do you know everything? 

There may be a few people who act as if they know everything, but I suspect that all of us, if we are being honest, and are not delusional, would acknowledge that we do not know everything.

We must accept that we know only a part of the truth. 

Since we only know in part, it stands that our knowledge is incomplete.  Since our knowledge is incomplete, we should be willing to listen to others who may know something that we do not know.  Unless, of course, we have no desire to add to our accumulation of truth.   

Once we have become willing to listen to others then we have a new challenge.  That challenge is to be able to discern what is true, and what is false. This is far more easily said than done.  Certainly not everything that others tell us is true.  They too, have only a part of the truth. 

For today, I would simple encourage everyone to be willing to admit that we don’t know everything, and that we can learn new things, sometimes from surprising sources, it we are open to listen to others in our continuing search for truth.

Community of Believers

November 4, 2009

Community is not necessarily uniformity.

For people who believe in Jesus as the Son of God, Savior and Lord; there is a range of expression of that faith.  The Bible is read, interpreted and applied.  It is understandable that we will have some variation in that process of applying Scripture to  our lives.  God works in our lives at different rates, and in different ways.  Who are we to judge another man’s servant?

Believe in Jesus.

Love God.

Love one another.

Yet, the scripture tells us that if we love God, we will keep His commandments.  It is appropriate to interact with each other over the application of the Word.  There are serious consequences for behaviour or beliefs that go too far in the wrong direction.  Dialogue with individuals with whom we disagree, can bring change either to ourselves, or to them, if each other’s position is honestly considered.

Ultimately God is the judge.  May God guide our thoughts, words and deeds, so that they may be pleasing and acceptable in His sight.

Beyond Words

September 3, 2009

“The spirit may grasp truth that breaks beyond the barriers of human language.”

Last night in Bible study, one of the older members of our congregation, (She is 97!) commented that the topic was so deep that she was having trouble expressing what God was saying to her.  After the study was officially concluded, we were still sitting around talking and the line that I wrote above, came to me and I quickly got up wrote it down on the board so that I wouldn’t forget it. 

I believe that God communicates to us in a variety of ways.  God will utilize the natural means of verbal communication, such as reading, dialogue, and rational thought; but additional truths are grasped by an internal comprehension,  a revelation on a spiritual level, which allows us to understand, but that may be difficult to express.  These truths have a profound impact on how we comprehend the things of God, and of the world, and even though our attempts to put them into words are only partially successful; they enrich our lives, and our cognition of metaphysical reality.

How Do We Know The Truth?

August 20, 2009

“You can’t believe everything you read.” 

Except this blog of course, I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth… unless of course I am confused, have my facts mixed up, bad memory, wrong information and so on.  OK, at least I promise not to intentionally lie, but you don’t necessarily know me, so does my word mean anything?

We know our own experiences.  Whether those experiences are remembered and interpreted correctly are another issue.  Sometimes people who were at the same event have different recollections of what happened and what was said.  So our collection of remembered data is relatively sound, but not absolute.

Things that we can see at the moment can be pretty certain.  Unless we are having a temporary, or even not-so-temporary break with reality caused by drugs, fatigue, mental illness or other factors.  Still, for most of us we can believe our senses, unless, of course we are deceived by a magician, or illusionist, or a quick talking con man.

Still for the most part, we can know a good deal about the world by our accumulation of assorted experiences.

We can also know what we hear from other sources.  The only problem with that is that we are relying on our sources to relay accurate information. 

Sources are not always accurate.

Now if we have multiple sources, or if our sources have been credible and reliable in the past, then we can become more certain of our knowledge.

What happens when our sources disagree? 

We evaluate our information by number of sources, reliability of sources, and how well the information meshes with the rest of our understanding of reality as we know it.

Good luck with that.

Jesus said that he is “The way, the truth, and the life..”

and that “we shall know the truth, and the truth shall set us free.”

In Proverbs it tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

I believe that through my faith in Christ I can have a knowledge that is secure.  I have a firm foundation upon which to build my life-view.  Once you have The Cornerstone, the rest can be built up.  If I occasionally have to take out a section, and rebuild, that doesn’t shake my world.  I don’t always have to be right, as long as I know The Truth.

Truth by Popular Vote?

February 26, 2009

As a country we appreciate a good vote.  American Idol has captivated millions with the opportunity to elect the winner by our votes  The success of Survivor has been partially because we love to watch people live, work, and plot with, and against, each other for the all important vote at the end of each episode.  As a country we recently finished a two year campaign for our political vote, as we elected the people who would be our political leaders.

All of these votes are valid and important; but can a vote be applied to truth?  Some would suggest that it could, that truth itself is a relative concept, that each society decides for itself what is true and what is false. 

It may be true to some degree that each society decides what it accepts as true, or false, but that does not mean that society is able to establish an ultimate truth.  I believe that for many things there is an ultimate, eternal truth.  Our goal should be to search for that truth, not to attempt to create truth by popular vote.  If everyone believes a lie, it may govern their actions, but it is still a lie.  Sometimes lies can be very popular and the truth may be inconvenient, but the truth, ultimately, is worth searching for in our lives.  It may not make us popular, but it will make us right, and the search itself will add a dimension to our lives that would not exist if we simple flowed downstream with the crowd.