Recently my son had a problem with his gaming system. I decided to reveal my tech geek side and began to look deeper into the issue. I realized that the disc drive was malfunctioning and had another drive ordered. When it arrived, the sticker on the box said, “new.” I quickly learned that it was anything but new. It had a padded wrapper over it but inside told another story. I found things broken and a stripped screw.
The people who sold me the disc drive can easily slap a sticker on a box and say the merchandise is new even though it is anything but new. With us, we can pretend to be a particular way; however, if we have the Spirit, if we accepted Jesus into our lives and were baptized, then there should be a sign of fruit—fruit from our lives.
You cannot fake a relationship with Christ. You cannot slap on a label (ex: “Christian”) and think it makes the reality change. There’s a song that says, “You’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Today, are you a box with a deceptive sticker or are you the real deal? If people look around will they see the fruits of your labor or will they get lost and confused from the image you try to uphold?
“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” – Matthew 7:16-18 [ESV]
When I was a little girl, I had a crazy imagination and I had a lot of time to consider my future. I had a complete future dreamed up, with the number of kids, how my husband would be, the job I would have, etc. Some of what I imagined became reality and there was a point in life when I thought everything I had envisioned was right in my grasp; however, my fantasy world crumbled before my very eyes.
In today’s passage, Bildad asked Job if he wanted to have the world redesigned for him, to have reality suspended for him. It meant should that which is firm as a rock get removed as a special accommodation for Job so that he could have his own reality. Or one could say that which doesn’t fit or work into my plans be removed so I could have the reality I want.
Bildad understood that God designed the world and that was reality. God is Creator. God is King. Of course with his truth he was misdirected regarding Job; however, we also need to ask ourselves this same question. There are moments when the reality that is before us doesn’t fit our plan and we need to step back and realize that our plan and God’s plan aren’t totally aligned. Improper alignment causes us to desire a redesigned reality. Remember God’s plan is so much better than the one we could ever imagine.
“Bildad from Shuhah chimed in:
‘How monotonous these word games are getting!
Get serious! We need to get down to business.
Why do you treat your friends like slow-witted animals?
You look down on us as if we don’t know anything.
Why are you working yourself up like this?
Do you want the world redesigned to suit you?
Should reality be suspended to accommodate you?’”
-Job 18:4 [MSG]
When the Gibeonites came before God’s people, claiming to be from a distant country, “The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD” (Joshua 9:14). The people of Gibeon made the false claims and had items to make their words appear to be true. They had the worn-out sacks and old wineskins. The bread was dry and moldy. The people sampled the lies, but never went to the Truth. As a result, because they believed the lies presented to them, they made an oath to the Gibeonites which became a burden to them.
There are times when we are presented with what appears to be factual information. We are to use good discernment to make decisions. But are we to approach God with everything? Should the Israelites have inquired of the Lord? Again and again God tells the Israelites to not make treaties with others, to not intermarry with others, to not allow themselves to get too close to the outsiders because they would then dwindle towards following their ways. Making a treaty, an alliance with someone, is a big deal.
Truth is God’s truth. In a day when people continue to try to twist the truth, it is important that we keep seeking the Lord for Truth. Just recently, I have seen someone bring up the topic of slavery in the Bible in a false manner to challenge the biblical definition of marriage. These people were sampling the lies rather than truly reading the word of God. So many today are sampling lies and making up their own truth. Today, stand firm in the truth. Seek the Lord rather than sampling the lies of the world.
“Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.” – John 17:17 [NLT]
“Desire without knowledge is not good– how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” – Proverbs 19:2 (NIV)
As I was walking my dog Max, I saw a dog ahead, limping across the street. The little terrier looked to be injured and as I approached the dog, I immediately began to plan what I would do to help this dog. My ten years of medical experience and my knowledge of animals would surely help me to assist this poor dog. When I got closer to the dog, she stopped and allowed me to check her out. I saw her tag mentioned an address just across the street. Then I flipped the tag around to see if there was a phone number, and there I read “handicapped.” The dog wasn’t injured, she was handicapped. There was no vehicular accident, no dog fight, no bad fall.
When I spoke to the owner of the dog, who said her dog is an escape artist, she told me that numerous people had captured the dog when it escaped previously and took it to a veterinarian to try to get help for its front leg that was deformed. Everyone saw it and immediately thought it was broken and went to get it assistance. She had numerous bills as a result.
Looks can be deceiving. From afar, I could see that dog was limping and I immediately jumped to the conclusion that she was hurt from a vehicle, another dog, or a fall. I never thought she would be handicapped though I have seen many handicapped dogs. Sometimes when we see things, our minds wander. We have such imaginations. As I mentioned, I was already planning a course of action before I knew what was wrong with the dog. I thought I was planning ahead to be prepared, and yet what I was preparing for was nonexistent.
We all are guilty of rushing to conclusions or responding before we know the facts. We are told to seek the truth, to have patience, and to use proper judgment, and yet sometimes we jump right in and find ourselves surprised when we realize the truth. I am only thankful when the truth is realized for there are times when people jump in and never do see the truth because their eyes are blinded.
Today as you will see many things, seek out the truth. Don’t immediately jump to conclusions. You may see photos on Facebook with captions telling you a story that is anything but true. You may come across a person and rush to judgment, not grasping the true situation. You may begin to react without all of the facts. Be patient. Seek the truth.
Jesus told Pilate, “In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth” (John 18:37 NIV). The question that Pilate and many others have asked is “what is truth?” (v. 38 NIV). The Bible mentions the word “truth” over two hundred times. God revealed truth to us through Jesus. Jesus says in John 14:6 that He is “the way and the truth and the life” (NIV).
When we read the garden scene in Genesis 3, it is quite clear that God presents absolute truth with regard to this tree of knowledge of good and evil to Adam and Eve. Satan challenges God’s truth, and deceives Adam and Eve into questioning what God says as well. Even today, Satan attempts to get us to challenge God’s Truth, to ask “did God really say” when we encounter His Truth. God’s Truth does not change; though we may attempt to misrepresent or skew His Truth, it still remains as Truth, as absolute reality. We can choose to accept His Truth and live by it, or to deny it and live as a fool, lost and wandering in search for another alternative which just is not there.
Many people will spend their lives asking the same question as Pilate, and will never get the true answer because they are seeking for answers in the wrong place. I cling to the promise found in John 16:13, “But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (NIV). Only through a relationship with God, as a result of Christ’s redemption and the working of the Holy Spirit are we able to understand Truth. If only Pilate realized that he was speaking to the Truth, he would have seen the answer was right before him.
When my daughter came home from school yesterday, she gave me this little comic drawing of a coffee cup. On the back she wrote that I was as sweet as coffee. My daughter never tasted coffee and she did not realize that coffee has a bitter taste unless sugar is added. She simply sees me drinking it and assumes it must taste good because I drink it often. Therefore she developed this false impression of the taste of coffee.
The same can be said of the Pharisees in the Bible. People observed them walking around holding people to the Law. People assumed that the Pharisees, being educated in the Scripture, were more knowledgeable and understanding of God and what He desired from us. It was quite a false impression, something that can be seen so easily when the Pharisees are called white-washed tombs (Matthew 23:27). They looked great on the outside but on the inside things were not so great. Just like the coffee looks nice and sweet because I’m drinking it each morning, but it is very bitter without some sugar.
God tells us that He desires our love, and Paul wrote that whatever we do, if it is done without love it means nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3). The Bible says that God can see our heart, our true heart (1 Samuel 16:7). He selected David because of what He saw in David’s heart. Our aim should be to have a pure heart, a heart that loves God first, and loves others. There should be no false impression, no confusion as to the appearance of our heart and our motives if we are living our lives with an outpouring of God’s love. The same love that God shows us, we can show others (1 John 4:7).
Today, look at your heart and see what is there.
• Do you love people like Jesus?
• Are you carrying around bitterness and unforgiveness?
• Where are areas for improvement in your life?
Looks are deceiving. My poor dog was walking along the sidewalk like normal, and then up ahead was a Halloween decoration swaying in the wind. He jumped and then he dropped down in his hunting stance and slowly made his way toward the strange looking mummy figure. As we walked by, his eyes were glued on the mummy to make sure it did not attack. Even after we passed by, Max kept turning his head and looking back, focusing only on this falsity. He believed that the mummy was real and that it would come and attack. As a result, he approached the area slowly and was hesitant to take his eyes off of the decoration.
We often see things swaying in the wind and believe a certain way. Our minds can go wild when we have something before us. We take a fake mummy and turn it into a full on nightmare. I’m sure many adults can relate when they think back to that shirt that was hanging in their closet that they swore was a monster as a child. As we know, monsters do not exist.
The devil likes to use our fears and worries to his advantage. He loves when we think the goal is out of reach, when we feel like something is not going to work out, and when we think things are not going our way. We see something that is not the truth, but it seems like it could be the truth. Or in our minds we imagine what could happen– like the mummy could be real and come and attack us– rather than what is really the truth– that the mummy is just some plastic cut out used for seasonal décor. Like my dog, we then begin to focus on the mummy more than anything else.
When we focus on the mummy instead of focusing on reality, we tend to drop down in our own stance– our stance of fear and doubt. With believing the lies we are told and letting our minds run wild, we lose steam for moving forward with what God has in store for us. We sidestep, we fall back, we consider hiding. When David faced Goliath, he didn’t focus on the size of the giant. Instead he focused on the size of his God. When we have a mummy swaying in our life, remember you have a God bigger than any mummy. The devil is the father of lies, and he wants you to believe otherwise. Keep pressing forward. Through Jesus we have victory.
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 3:12-14 [NASB]
Do you wash your hands? It is a strange question for me to ask. Most people would think that I was making a suggestion about your hygiene; however, I am not talking about washing your hands as part of a routine for good hygiene. In Matthew 27, when Jesus was standing before Pilate, there was a great push for His crucifixion. Pilate did not want anything to do with what was to come, and so he washed his hands before the crowd and claimed his innocence in the matter.
If we turn a few chapters back in Matthew, we read about judgment. We do not like to discuss judgment, but Jesus painted a clear picture. He gave us an important image, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me” (Matthew 25:42-43 NASB).
When I ask if you wash your hands, I am referring to helping your fellow brothers and sisters. Do you wash your hands and move along, ignoring reality, ignoring the needs of others? Or do you help to take care of the needs around you? Jesus said if we feed a person who is hungry, it is as if we are feeding Him. If we clothe someone who is without clothing, it is as if we are providing Him with clothing.
Helping others does not always take some overabundance of finances and belongings. People who have so little are like the widow who gave so much– providing for the needs around them without concern for letting go of something. I have seen people who do not have a large savings help to buy food and clothing for another family. I have seen families barely getting by invite others into their homes for dinner. I have seen people barely scraping by provide for the needs of others.
So I ask you today, do you wash your hands? Do you say that it’s not your problem and you won’t be bothered by it? Or do you pull up your sleeves and see what you can do for others? What you can do for Jesus?
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
– Acts 20:35 [ESV]
I like to drink a lot. I need to drink a lot. I am a person who talks a lot so I always need to have a bottle of water with me so that my throat doesn’t get dry. When I went to leave the house this morning, I had to ask myself if I had a bottle of water in the car. I thought I remembered seeing one there, and so I left. When I was mid route, I realized that the bottle was empty. I was thirsty, but the bottle had nothing in it.
The bottle gave me a false impression that it would provide water. It reminds me of Mark 11 and when Jesus cursed the fig tree. The fig tree had leaves and so it gave this false impression that it would provide fruit.
We too need to be careful with false impressions that we see everywhere in our lives. We see people on the Internet and in our daily lives who say that they know Christ and say that they are Christians. Sometimes their game plan is filled with hate, judgment, and cruelty.
Matthew 7:15 says, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” There are going to be a lot of people who approach us with sheep’s clothing, and sadly we are going to believe what they say. This is where it’s important to read God’s Word and to listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
When we hear teachings, and when we hear people talking about certain things, we need to be like the Bereans. They studied everything and looked to see if what the person was saying is what was in God’s Word. Because, if it’s not in God’s Word, it’s not the Truth.