Truth Trumps All #16

by admin on March 24, 2015

Forgiveness

  

What’s the opposite of holding a grudge? Extending forgiveness. However, truly forgiving someone for wronging us comes about as easily as a two year old attempting advanced calculus. With that in mind, the Bible sheds light on two truths about forgiveness.

 

 

1) If we follow Jesus, we are expected to forgive

those who offend us.

 

 

 

 2) If we follow Jesus, he gives us the capacity to

forgive those who offend us.

 

 

 

Yet why must we forgive others? We must forgive others because God already forgave us for all of our sins and because we are no better than the person who hurt us (Matthew 18). We may not have done the exact same thing in the exact same scenario but we have acted the same way in a different scenario or at the very least have wished we could.

 

 

The first statement is proven in the sample prayer Jesus gives to his listeners (Matthew 6). In verse 12 he says, “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” In other words, Jesus guides us to pray, “God, forgive us in the same manner that we forgive others. If we forgive them whole-heartedly, forgive us whole-heartedly. If we don’t forgive them at all, don’t forgive us at all.”  Now, we know that once Christ has redeemed us, it is against God’s nature to not forgive us. Thus, the heart of this prayer is really, “Lord, teach me to forgive others to the extent that you forgive me.” This also sheds light on the second statement. Jesus will give us the capacity to forgive when we ask him to (Matthew 7:7).  

 

 

Therefore, in order to forgive others we must pray for God’s help in that area. Furthermore, the apostle Paul tells us that we need to “put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13). Paul illustrates a three-fold process.          `

 

 

1) Remember who you are in Christ. You are:

 “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.”

 

 

 

2) Assume the characteristics that are fitting for a child of God:

    compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, etc.

 

 

 

3) Bear with one another and forgive each other.

 

 

What can we say about forgiveness then? Namely, it cannot happen on our own. Likewise, when we our hearts do become more inclined to forgive others, forgiveness is not the only byproduct of that growth. The more we are able to forgive the more we are able to give compassion to others. As we mature in Christ in one area, growth will naturally be witnessed in other areas as well (2 Peter 1).

 

 

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

– Ephesians 4:31-5:2

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Truth Trumps All #15

by admin on March 10, 2015

Anger

 

We live in a world in which we are constantly fed the ideology that my primary concern should always be myself. You should be most concerned about yourself. Sure, we’re expected to be a good person, help others, give to charity, etc. but it’s often more about making ourselves feel good than it is about actually doing blessing someone else. Advertisements all over the place pervasively argue that all we need is the newest ______ to make us happy. The ad says, often quite convincingly, that our lives will benefit tremendously with the addition of this product no matter what it is. But the bottom line is that I should be most concerned with me. You should be most concerned with your own wellbeing. Additionally, since this line of thinking compliments our own natural selfishness, it is extremely easy to just conclude the world should, at least generally, revolve around us without actually thinking through the pros and cons of that reality.

 

 

Do we have the right to be angry?

And if so then for how long?

 

 

 

When we are unable to get what we want or when life doesn’t go exactly according to our plan, our natural tendency is to become angry. While anger is not inherently wrong, it is exceedingly difficult for us to let it influence our decisions in a godly manner. That’s why the Bible only categorizes anger in lists of things we should avoid or put to death in ourselves (Galatians 5:19-21, Colossians 3:5-8) Since our natural tendency is to become angry, the apostle Paul writes a concession in Ephesians 4:26, quoting Psalm 4, essentially saying, “When you become angry, don’t let it lead you to sin.” However, a few verses later he commands that we “put away” anger and wrath (Ephesians 4:31). So if Paul desires for us to be less offendable how do we stop that habit? Paul points us to David’s writing for the answer.

 

 

            “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.

Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.”

– Psalm 4:4-5

 

 

David suggests that we must simultaneously “offer right sacrifices” and “trust in the Lord.” We should labor to make sure our sacrifices, our worship, our service to God, and our intentions in doing so is pure. When this is prioritized our trust in the Lord is fueled, which in turn fuels our ability to serve Him with a pure heart.

 

 

 “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.”

– Proverbs 29:22

 

 

However, whenever we interact with another human being, it is highly probable that at some point their brokenness will offend us by something they say or do, or vice versa. Do we have the right to be angry with that person when it happens? And if so then for how long? If my first priority is keeping myself happy then yes, I do have the right to be angry with them. But if I truly believe that God proved he really wants what’s best for me, specifically on the cross as well as by my own personal experience with him, then my right to be angry is lost in the command to “offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.”

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Truth Trumps All #14

by admin on February 24, 2015

The Root of Bitterness

 

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.” 

- Hebrews 12:14-16

 

The writer of Hebrews warns us to take heed against a “root of bitterness” which may bear fruit in anyone’s life. The offspring of this root is, to say the least, unpleasant. But what is the root of bitterness? What is that from which this animosity is birthed?

 

In the text, there is a correlation between one who “fails to obtain the grace of God” and where a “root of bitterness” grows. Who fails to obtain the grace of God except the one who doesn’t believe its goodness? Thus, bitterness begins with whatever distracts us from God. It starts with whatever prompts us to question His word when it says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

 

 

“What then is the root that brings forth the bitter fruit?

 It is a person who has a wrong view of eternal security.

 He feels secure when he is not secure.”

 

 

 

 

“Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.” 

- Deuteronomy 29:18-19

 

 

 

Moses suggests that the root of bitterness is in those who turn away from the Lord to worship other gods. Yet Moses taught the Israelites that these other gods are not legitimate deities (Deuteronomy 4:32-39). However, the Israelites were still tempted to follow these other gods because the nations around them behaved as if worshipping them was the gateway to happiness. Today we still feel the temptation to unlock peace of mind from sources that are not God. Now what is it that gives us the illusion of being God when it is not? What are we tempted to believe will bring us joy and satisfaction? The answer may be different for various people. However, it is ultimately that which we are slow to question its place in our lives in relation to Jesus. It is whatever we gives us a sense of security and makes us assume we do not have to trust God. John Piper put it this way, What then is the root that brings forth the bitter fruit? It is a person who has a wrong view of eternal security. He feels secure when he is not secure.”

 

 

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” 

- James 3:13-15

 

 

Who fails to obtain the grace of God

except the one who doesn’t believe its goodness? 

 

 

 

The root of bitterness is that which uproots our trust in God. It plants distrust against the Author of Life in our minds. It causes jealousy and enmity among our family. Nothing good can come from this root of bitterness. It only brings destruction. So how do we get rid of it? First, ask God that you may become aware of it when it is present in your life. Next, ask God to do some Pruning And Cultivating.

 

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 

- Ephesians 4:31-32

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Truth Trumps All #13

by admin on February 10, 2015

Sheep/Wolves

 

How much do you know about wolves? How much do you know about sheep? The Bible mentions both of these animals several times, often juxtaposed against the other. It’s important for us to understand some of the distinguishing traits of these animals in order for us to get a better grasp of why the Bible uses them as illustrations.

 

We are called to be sheep.

 

 

Verses such as Matthew 10:16 and Luke 10:3 refer to believers as sheep. Why? Neither you nor I would probably rank them anywhere near the top of a list of animals we’d prefer to be compared to us. However, there are several reasons the Scriptures call this a good comparison. For instance, sheep are highly social animals. They are excruciatingly dependent on one another and live in large groups together called flocks. They are extremely gifted at following; whenever one sheep goes a certain direction the rest will follow suit without question. Sheep are never aggressive but characterized by docility. They heavily depend on their sense of sight to get around, yet their vision isn’t high quality.

 

Whether we like it or not, every single one of those attributes about sheep identifies a follower of Christ. Christians can’t thrive without a community of believers around them. And we are, or at least we should be, distinguished by our readiness to follow the one leading us without question. We also use our eyes to figure out where to go. Yet we can’t actually see what’s going on around us that clearly, which is why the Bible tells us to walk in faith that God knows what he’s doing and where he’s leading us (2nd Corinthians 5:7).

 

Now wolves have a completely different nature. While they are like sheep in being social creatures that is about where the similarities end. Wolves are controlling, dominating, and power-hungry. They prey on the weak, which could be animals that are young, elderly, sick, or injured. They exploit others to serve their own wants and needs. This would be like a person who only cares about getting their desires fulfilled and will do so by any means necessary. Someone could show this quality in any realm of life.

 

 

 Beware of wolves.

Beware of being a wolf. 

 

 

 

Therefore, the main difference between wolves and sheep is that wolves want to control others to further their own ambitions while sheep would much rather have someone else be in charge.

 

We are called to be sheep. We are called to continually follow our shepherd (John 10:11) without hesitation (1 Peter 2:21). We are called to be humble and gentle (Ephesians 4:2). However, even though Christians resemble sheep it is possible for the qualities of a wolf to become overpowering in the life of a believer. That’s why Paul said this to the Ephesians:

 

 

 “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

– Acts 20:29-30

 

 

Therefore, we must beware of wolves in our midst. We must be able to sense when someone is doing something for his or her own gain instead of simply just following as Christ leads. This is especially important if it’s someone who has authority. But more importantly, we must beware of being a wolf ourselves. Because we are all sinners we struggle to incessantly follow our Shepherd. We would much rather live in a manner that always seems logical to us. This may get us in the habit of coercing those around us to help accomplish our own goals for ourselves. The heart of a wolf is revealed by an extreme hatred of defeat and an unquenchable thirst for control. They will manipulate in any way possible to get what they want.

 

 

Thus, we need to beware of our own shortcomings just as much, if not more, as someone who may have wolf-like qualities (Matthew 7:3). If we see this sin in ourselves it is our responsibility to repent and actively work against our manipulative mindset (Isaiah 55:6-7).  If we see a wolf in our brother or sister, we must voice our concerns to them in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1). And most importantly we must make a habit of pointing our fellow sheep back to the Cross and back to our great Shepherd.

 

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

– 2nd Corinthians 5:14-15

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Truth Trumps All #12

January 27, 2015

Coveting   To covet means “to desire earnestly, criminally, exceeding reasonable limits what belongs to another.” Arguably every human being covets. It can be extremely difficult not to. However, one of the Ten Commandments is dedicated to the prohibition of this practice, which means that coveting is something we should strive to purge ourselves of. […]

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Truth Trumps All #11

January 13, 2015

Why TTA?   Truth Trumps All. The simple phrase has been the title of our blog series this school year and by now you may be wondering why. If you want a short answer, it’s because the phrase is accurate and easy to remember. A more in depth explanation is in the paragraphs below. But […]

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Truth Trumps All #10

December 26, 2014

What if We Treated God like Facebook?   The concept sounds absurd but think about it. Why do we use Facebook? Do we use it as a means of procrastinating? For a reason to pull out our phones in awkward situations? For entertainment when we’re bored? Do we desire the ease of keeping up to […]

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Truth Trumps All #9

December 16, 2014

Jesus was Born to Die   During this holiday season we celebrate the fact that the Son of God came down to earth from heaven. Let us not, however, forget the reason he came. On one hand there were many purposes for his incarnation. Everything he did on earth had meaning behind it.   Jesus […]

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Truth Trumps All #8

December 2, 2014

When there’s no room at the Inn try the Barn   At first glance of the sacred text (Luke 2), Mary and Joseph had no problem sleeping in a barn rather than at the inn. But think about it. They’ve been traveling all day. Mary’s been ready to give birth for weeks. They expected a […]

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A Confession

November 30, 2014

This morning was another link in a long chain of hopelessness There might not be a link for every morning But I can’t tell you for sure, it was the morning This hopelessness is so easy to welcome into my heart Why? 7am logic? My worldly passions? A desire for companionship? Perhaps just that, perhaps […]

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