Tag Archives: truth

God’s promises to us in prayer

The last Tuesday of the month is out monthly prayer breakfast at First Saint Johns Lutheran Church. It is a time to lift up prayer for each other, for the church that God has put us in, for our community, any other needs that people bring up. Everyone is welcome, it’s a great breakfast and a really great time of fellowship in prayer.

It is also a time for a little teaching. We can all always use a little more guidance in our prayer/devotional life and I found he following is from Martin Luther which will be a topic of conversation:

“Good prayer that is heard by God has two prerequisites. First, we must consider God’s promise that he will hear us. By reminding him of his promise, we can dare to pray confidently. For God hadn’t asked us to pray and hadn’t promised to hear us, then all people praying their requests together wouldn’t be able to receive even the smallest item.

So no one receives anything from God because of the quality of the prayer, but only because of God’s goodness. God anticipates all of our requests and desires. With his promise, he prompts us to pray and desire these things so that we will learn how much he cares for us. He cares for us so much that he is prepared to give us even more than we are ready to receive or to ask for. Because he is offering us so much, we can pray with confidence.

Second, we must not doubt what the true and faithful God promises to do. He promises to hear our prayers – yes, he even commands us to pray. He promises this so that we might firmly believe that our prayers will be answered. As Christ says, ‘That’s why I tell you to have faith that you have already received whatever you pray for, and it will be yours’ (Mark 11:24; Matthew 21:22). Christ also says, ‘So I tell you to ask and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Everyone who asks will receive. The one who searches will find, and for the person who knocks, the door will be opened’ (Luke 11:9-10). By trusting in these promises and obeying thee commands, we can pray with confidence.” (Through Faith Alone  365 Devotional Readings from Martin Luther October 30)

As in everything in our relationship with God it is about Him guiding us in prayer, it is about Him leading us in everything. We can certainly lift up inspired, high prose in our prayer, but that’s not really the point. Often we would do well to wait in prayer for the Holy Spirit to move us to understand what we really should be praying for and get on God’s track for us instead of us trying to force our prayer and struggle. God truly is waiting to God us in all parts of our life. That is faith, trusting His leading instead of fussing about what we’re supposed to do.

We are of good courage as His children 2 Corinthians 5: 1-17 First Saint Johns June 14, 2015

[For the audio version, click on the above link]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are courageous in the Lord said … AMEN

“At our daughter’s high school graduation, I couldn’t help noticing a young man sporting a long bleached blond ponytail sprouting from the top of his otherwise shaved head. A heavy link chain hung around his neck, and one ear displayed several earrings.

I had to smile when I heard him say to his friend, “Man, I feel so out of place. I’m the only guy here not wearing a tie.”

There is such a thing as clueless courage, hey God bless him, frankly, it seems to me that there’s a lot of clueless courage in the world. It’s somehow “courageous” to be in favor of things that the Bible clearly calls sin, but because it’s what everyone else does, it’s somehow courageous.

When I was a boy, we moved a lot, seemed I was always the new kid on the block. Well you know how the “new kid on the block”, gets treated. I always found it amazing how these guys would pick a fight and think they were being courageous picking on me with six of their friends standing around. There’s just a whole lot of that today, everyone likes to think they’re a tough guy until they look and realize their posse isn’t around them.

Paul put up with a lot of bullies, people who would abuse their authority by abusing Paul, or people who would just try to bully him into shutting up. There’s a lot of that today. Those in the world love to think that they are so marvelously open minded, it’s rather shocking how rigid and close minded people are today. They will criticize anything a Christian says as “judgmental” and then turn around and judge them by telling them how judgmental they are. There is one big difference between a Christian and those in the world. When I say something and tell someone what they’re doing, or teaching or selling is wrong, I’m not making it up, or at least, as a Christian, I better not be. Anything I say to anyone better be something I can back up in the Bible. Part of the problem in that is that even those who are regularly part of the church, really don’t know the Bible. For most, they may have a knowledge of the Bible, but not sufficient to feel confident about sharing it with someone else.

Much as I’d like to think that I’m an absolute expert, I’m not, and there are times when I am witnessing to God’s will and I feel like I’m on shakey ground. I have to trust that the Holy Spirit put me in front of someone in order to witness to them. Matthew 10:19: “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” Jesus is, of course, saying, that the Holy Spirit will guide you in what He wants you to say. It does take courage, we often summarize courage in that Christian word we call “faith”. Permit me to give a little longer quote from Dr Luther, because what we as Lutherans think of as faith is very different from what those in the world think of and actually, even most Christians: “Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. “Faith is not enough,” they say, “You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.”[1]

It’s interesting how we think in terms of being “pious” to have “faith”, whereas both Luther and Paul say, it’s not so much being somehow so humble, bashful, even restrained, sure we aren’t called to be obnoxious, but when we are witnessing to God, we are called to be assertive, positive, uplifting, but in no way bashful or pulling our punches. Many might see being reserved as being somehow so much more “Christian”, but I have yet to have anyone show me in the Bible where Jesus, Paul, Peter, John the Baptist, the Old Testament prophets were somehow piously quiet or bashful. Plenty of people thought they were more than sufficiently obnoxious. But they weren’t, they were being courageous.

I even hear Christians say this: “Well you don’t want to impose your beliefs on others.”????? Let’s understand this right off the bat, I’m not imposing my beliefs on anyone! If I can’t back up something I say in a very straightforward and unambiguous way from the Bible, then I should not be saying it. If I am faithfully and yes, courageously, speaking and witnessing for God, if I’m being led by the Holy Spirit to share Christ with someone else, how is that imposing “my beliefs” on someone else? They are “my” beliefs to the extent that as a temple of the Holy Spirit, I am faithful to Jesus Christ my Lord and I certainly have been imbued with those beliefs, but where did those beliefs come from? Me? No! They are what Jesus taught, God the Son, they are what He expects us to live by and to actively share and live by with others. Just like my faith, how I know to live and serve as a Christian is because the Holy Spirit has guided me and you, to live and serve and speak that way to the world. We need to faithfully follow what Jesus tells us and to stop living by the world’s uninformed opinion. More often than not when I am sharing Christ with someone, they don’t even know why they believe what they believe or even what they believe. They’ve heard someone else say it that criticizes Christians and they simply accept what they’ve heard.

We are called to “always be of good courage”. Paul goes on to say, “we walk by faith, not by sight”. That does make us very different from those in the world. They have no faith, they have no discernment, they accept what the world imposes on them and they expect others to just shut up and listen. If what you say is opposed to them, you’re wrong and will be slapped with however many nasty, intolerant labels those in the world will impose on you. While the Holy Spirit guides you to speak, Matthew 10:19 ; “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.”  While we have the word of God in the Bible to tell us God’s will, while we have the preached word, teachers who are there to help you understand God’s will and word, the world has only what’s been made up. The world will ignore God’s word, tell you what the real “truth” is, and has no basis for telling you anything.

Faith is the courage the Holy Spirit gives us in order to stand against a dark, sinful, ignorant world, the courage to tell the world what God’s will is. The world likes to think it’s will is important, in the end those opinions change, are proven wrong and are just ignorant of the facts. God’s will has been what matters and has been consistent for eternity. The world’s opinion lasts for a season and then is completely different a short time later. The world’s “truth” can’t be counted on for more than a few months, God’s truth has been and will be forever. Luther says: “Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you

freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace.”[2] These aren’t your words or actions, they’re God’s, you’re not “imposing” anything. God is giving you the faith and courage to tell those around you the truth. If they want to treat you rudely, bully you, impose their groundless beliefs on you, that becomes their problem. You have courageously, faithfully and strongly pointed to the truth that God Father, Son and Holy Spirit guide us in. You’ve done your part courageously, not imposing, now we leave it to the Holy Spirit to do His part. If that other person can’t, won’t accept it and continues to act like you’re wrong, they’re the ones that will pay the price. You have been faithful and courageous in sharing Christ and He will tell you “’Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:21) Take out your journal, how can you be more faithful in the courage God gives you to share the truth of God’s will and with whom will you share it?

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom.

[1] Rev. Robert E. Smith Walther Library Concordia Theological Seminary

http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/luther-faith.txt

[2] Ibid

If you don’t confess Jesus as Lord, you’re not a Christian 1 John 4: 1-21 First St Johns May 3, 2015

[For the audio of this sermon click on the above link]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who confess Jesus as Lord of their life said … AMEN!

This is becoming an overwhelming issue for Christians in a pluralistic society. John’s words are more important today than ever. Many people acknowledge Jesus, but few really see Him as Lord of their life. John’s epistle is dated to the end of the first century, about sixty years after the crucifixion and resurrection. The church of Christ has grown, it is catholic at this point, that is universal, there are many kinds of people, in many different places that profess Jesus and worship with fellow Christians. The world today may be difficult in our post-Christian world, as compared to the world which until recently was at least culturally Christian. People in the world today often do not think of themselves as “Christian” as those of us who are in the Christian church. They may see Jesus as a “great teacher, etc”, but not as who He truly Is, that is the Lord of those who confess Jesus as He who died for our sins and was resurrected to give us the assurance of our resurrection into eternal life in the perfect New World. As much as the world has become very alien and antagonistic, or at least indifferent to Christianity today, it’s not hard to imagine how much more the world was that way to the church at the end of the first century. There was “gods”, beliefs, philosophies across the board, a supermarket of beliefs for anyone to choose whatever they wanted. With few exceptions, there was very little integrity in any of these beliefs, groups and teachings were organized to support anything you could want ranging from love of money, love of self, epicureanism a system that taught how to live the so-called “good life”, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. And of course to beliefs that were entirely about us and our works.

John is the last of the original disciples. There are bishops, even some regional assemblies that guided the church, but if there was an ultimate head of the church on earth he would have been John. He is very elderly at this time, probably around 90 years old, very much revered as a teacher. Unlike most people at this point, John’s “been there, done that and certainly has the t-shirt”. He was the disciple who was closest to Jesus, unlike the rest he was right there at the crucifixion and was at the resurrection and was involved in the church for the last sixty year. At this point in history, there are many heretical beliefs that are creeping in to Christianity. You often see other “Christian” beliefs, today with churches, who question the need for Christian doctrine, “it’s all about love”, they claim, that’s all you need. It is doctrine that gives us what it means to be truly Christian and to counter all the false teaching out there which were there from the beginning and are out there today. As we’ve discussed many times, the word “love” is very subjective, the word we use today, has about four different words in the original Greek. John uses the word frequently in this epistle. He starts the letter with the word “beloved”, the Greek word is  avgaphto,j we’ve talked about the Greek word  avgapa,w In a Christian context it is the love that Jesus showed to us, it is a love that is to all and under all circumstances, that is self-sacrificing, concerned with the best welfare of those who God leads us to, to be in relationship with. Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel reading talks about us all being a part of the same vine. We are all branches, we have the same source, the same relationship, being part of the same organism. Jesus said I am the “true vine”, there is no other authentic vine, only Me and only those who are branches of Me, the true vine. We abide in Him as a vine, an extension of Him and because of that He abides in us. The Greek word me,nw not just to be a part of, but to wait with, endure with, and as Jesus says to bear fruit and of course part of that fruit is that selfless, sacrificing love that we have for Him and brothers and sisters in Jesus. We have that love toward all we encounter, all people who the Holy Spirit brings us in contact with. But especially means to endure and to enhance the vine. To be fruitful and faithful to the vine and all the branches. In today’s world, we too often see that as being a little too soft, lacking discernment.

John calls those he writes to beloved, those who are the favorites and we are favorites, we have been chosen to be part of the vine, so we are very favored, also dear, important, close, part of the same vine, the same Body. Also esteemed, since we are so highly favored, each of us who are baptized in Jesus, we should think of each of us baptized in Him as special and important. Edward Englebrecht writes: “One story says that the congregation asked John to say a few words to them. By then, the aged apostle could not put many words together, but he would say repeatedly, ‘Little children, love one another”.[1] We are all part of the same vine, the same body, our first priority, the great commandment is to love the Lord, the “true vine”, but to also love our neighbor. How much more of a neighbor can we have then the branches that we are a part of and surround us, the branches of the true vine of Jesus Christ?

But the world continues to push on us, which is spiritual warfare that John is warning us about. We are to test the spirits, and spirits can come to us in many shapes, forms and ways. What you see on the internet, the movie you watched last night, the people you encounter on the street, on and on. We are to treat them with respect, love, that they are dear to us, they are made in God’s image. But we are always to test those spirits, if they show themselves to be of Christ, that they are baptized and take the Body and Blood of Jesus, they are a brother or sister and should be esteemed and treated accordingly. But if they do not confess Jesus, if they do not produce the fruit of the Spirit, we need to remember that as we relate to them. The world claims there are a lot of things that are “truth” that do not have anything to do with Jesus. John saw many false prophets in the first century and it is no less today. People who are teaching things that either straight out reject Jesus, or just ignore Him and profess things that have nothing to do with life and life more abundant as Jesus promises us and as a part of that vine that is all about Jesus.

Take that journal out. How do you test the spirits? It is not difficult, when we interact someone, it’s all about how what they say fits with what Jesus tells us. If they make a claim that doesn’t result in Jesus being Lord of our life, as Dr Martin Luther wrote: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.”[2]

If what you hear conflicts with what Dr Luther wrote, it’s not of Christ, it’s wrong. How do you address what you hear or see in faith to Jesus?

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

[1] Edward Englebrecht  “Concordia’s Complete Bible Handbook for students” p 438

[2] Martin Luther’s Large Catechism

Jesus is the Way the Truth the Life, the rest of the world just kind of fumbles around with the idea of truth.

Jesus said I am the truth Pilate looked Truth right in the Face and said “What is truth”. Interesting article on how Harvard University started as being “Truth” in the Christian faith and now is some vague sort of “Truth”.

Harvard: No Longer “Truth for Christ and the Church”

Yesterday our pastor shared with the congregation an interesting story about Harvard University’s seal and motto. The original motto, “Truth (Veritas) for Christ (Christo) and the Church (Ecclesiae),” was adopted in 1692 and was a part of their original seal as seen below (in Latin):

The motto and shield with this original verbiage can still be found at multiple places on Harvard’s campus. It may be difficult to discern from this picture, but the Harvard Graduate Christian Community website states the following:

Interestingly, the top two books on the shield are face up while the bottom book is face down. This symbolizes the limits of reason, and the need for God’s revelation.

At some point in Harvard’s history the motto was changed to simply “Truth” and the seal changed to that pictured below:

Notice all three books are now face up. This symbolizes a belief that there is no limit to man’s reasoning and God’s revelation is no longer needed. The change in the motto reflects a change in the university’s mission. The Harvard Graduate Christian Community website states this:

Harvard University was founded in 1636 with the intention of establishing a school to train Christian ministers. In accordance with that vision, Harvard’s “Rules and Precepts,” adopted in 1646, stated (original spelling and Scriptural references retained):

2. Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of him (Prov. 2:3).

3. Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoreticall observations of Language and Logick, and in practical and spiritual truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130).

This is obviously no longer their mission, and thus “Christ and the Church” were removed from the motto. How sad to see a university that was founded by a minister—solidly believing that knowledge, wisdom, and understanding come only from God’s Word—now believe that truth can be found apart from God and elevate man above God as the ultimate authority.

As I was searching the Harvard website, I came across this article entitled, “Intuitive? Try God.” The article related the research done by several students and professors at Harvard showing that people who believe in God are more likely to rely on intuition then people that don’t. The article states the following:

By linking religious belief to intuition, the study supports the idea that there is something in the cognitive makeup of humans that promotes belief in a higher power. For example, the natural tendency that people have to see a purpose behind random events, or the need to reduce uncertainty in their lives — as well as the anxiety it causes — may promote a belief in God.

In other words, the reason we want to believe in God or some higher power is due to our “cognitive makeup” which is the result of millions of years of evolution and thus may afford some evolutionary advantage.

The Bible states that people believe in God for very different reasons than the Harvard researchers postulate.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:18–22, emphasis added)

Oh, how the hearts of those at Harvard have been darkened, and how foolish they have become because although they know God, they deny Him. Instead of rejoicing in the truth that comes from God’s revelation (1 Corinthians 13:6), they suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). We’ve come to expect such thinking from secular institutions like Harvard, but sadly, this same form of thinking has infiltrated many Christian colleges today.

I encourage you to get our book, Already Compromised, to learn more about the compromise in American Christian colleges today. Also if you’re a student preparing for college (or parent of one!) and want to explore colleges and universities that affirm AiG’s Statement of Faith please attend our College Expo and Conference November 11–12 at the Creation Museum.

Keep fighting the good fight of faith!

God has given a lot of evidence for His existence

Ravi Zacharias is one of the most influential Christian apologists of our time, I’ve been reading him for a long time. I do copy a lot of things, but there is a lot of great stuff out there that others may not see and that I think is important to share and so I am submitting this for your consideration.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is beautiful and true, yet oftentimes one will ask, “How can it be true that there is only one way?” Odd, isn’t it, that we don’t ask the same questions of the laws of nature or of any assertion that lays claim to truth. We are discomfited by the fact that truth, by definition, is exclusive. That is what truth claims are at their core. To make an assertion is to deny its opposite. Rather than complain that there is only one way, shouldn’t we be delighted that there is one way?
The question really is, how do we really know this is the truth?
Whether Hitler or Hugh Hefner, religious or irreligious, everyone has a worldview. A worldview basically offers answers to four necessary questions: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. In turn, these answers must be correspondingly true on particular questions and, as a whole, all answers put together must be coherent.
Taking it a step further, the three tests for truth must be applied to any worldview: logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance. When submitted to these tests, the Christian message is utterly unique and meets the demand for truth.
Consider the empirical test of the person, teaching, and work of Jesus Christ. A look at human history shows why he was who he claimed to be and why millions follow him today. A comparison of Jesus’s teachings with any other claimant to divine or prophetic status quickly shows the profound differences in their claims and demonstrations. In fact, none except Jesus even claimed to be the divine Savior. His offer of grace and forgiveness by being the perfect sacrifice of our offense is profoundly unique.
I position the sequence of fact and deduction in the following way: Love is the supreme ethic. Where there is the possibility of love, there must be the reality of free will. Where there is the reality of free will, there will inevitably be the possibility of sin. Where there is sin, there is the need for a Savior. Where there is a Savior, there is the hope for redemption. Only in the Judeo-Christian worldview does this sequence find its total expression and answer. The story from sin to redemption is only in the gospel with the ultimate provision of a loving God.
But the question can be pushed back further. Does this not all assume that there is a God? Yes, it does, and there are four stages in the argument. The first is that no matter how we section physical concrete reality, we end up with a quantity that cannot explain its own existence. If all material quantities cannot explain their own existence, the only possibility for self-explanation would be something that is non-material.
Secondly, wherever we see intelligibility, we find intelligence behind it. Thirdly, we intuitively know that our moral reasoning points to a moral framework within the universe. The very fact that the problem of evil is raised either by people or about people intimates that human beings have intrinsic worth. Fourthly, the human experience in history and personal encounter sustains the reality of the supernatural.
There you have it. Who is God? He is the nonphysical, intelligent, moral first cause, who has given us intrinsic worth and who we can know by personal experience.
The verification of what Jesus taught and described and did make belief in Him a very rationally tenable and an existentially fulfilling reality. From cosmology to history to human experience, the Christian faith presents explanatory power in a way no other worldview does. Our faith and trust in Christ is reasonably grounded and experientially sustained.
I often put it this way: God has put enough into this world to make faith in Him a most reasonable thing. But He has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason alone. Faith and reason must always work together in that plausible blend.
Many of you may be familiar with my own story. I was born to Indian parents and raised in India. My ancestors were priests from the highest caste of Hinduism in India’s Deep South. But that was several generations ago. I came to Christ after a life of protracted failure and unable to face the consequences, sought to end it all. It was on a bed of suicide that a Bible was brought to me and in a cry of desperation, I invited Jesus Christ into my life. It was a prayer, a plea, a commitment, and a hope.
That was fifty years ago. I hardly knew what lay ahead of me, except that I was safe in Christ’s hands. Now as the years have gone by and in 2014 we celebrate thirty years of ministry at RZIM, I marvel at the grace and protection of God and the doors he has opened for our team. And more and more, I am convinced that Jesus Christ alone uniquely answers the deepest questions of our hearts and minds.
• This article was posted in: Just Thinking Magazine

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• This article was posted in: Just Thinking Magazine