Today’s fortune cookie declared, “In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true.” Isn’t this what we are witnessing in the world around us? We all decide what is true for us, and if something is not yet reality, our belief that it is true results in it becoming true. Our thoughts are powerful which is why God is clear on where we should focus (see Philippians 4:8).
In Proverbs 23, we read, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” This is why it is so important for us to be right with our thinking. It is easy to listen to other people and miss the truth. We have an overabundance of self-proclaimed experts in our midst. We also live in a time period with an oversaturation of data, some of it true and some not true at all. Plus, in this age of social media, we have all found ourselves playing the game of comparing lives which has only reinforced and grown our personal insecurities.
John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” This verse reminds us that when we are seeking truth, we should look to God for truth. When you want to know who you truly are, see what God says about you. When you want to know what is true, ask Him. He will open your eyes to what is true. Today, may you fix your eyes on what is true.
“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” – Proverbs 23:7a [NASB]
Many things in this world seem right. If I think back to days that have long since passed, there were many things that seemed right to me. Our definition of “right” evolves (hopefully improving as time goes on). I remember going from one extreme to the next. It’s easy to understand that the “seems” of this world don’t mean much. We are not living for the “seems” right but rather the “is” right.
When it comes to God and what He says is right, there is not a gray area. We like to talk a lot about the gray area. Things then aren’t right or wrong, or black and white. That’s what we tell ourselves. There’s this gray area. When we claim the gray area, we are able to bend the truth. We are able to accept the lies.
The Bible is clear. “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” Today, ask that the Lord reveal the path you are on right now. Ask that the Spirit opens your eyes to the truth, and remove any lies you may have accepted. Do away with the gray areas. Let go of what seems right. Cling to what God says is right and true and just.
“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” – Proverbs 14:12 [NLT]
I have always had the gift of gab. It can be a good thing if I’m speaking life and spreading encouragement, inspiring people to dig deeper into God’s Word and live by faith over fear. But at the same time, this can be a bad thing. James wrote, “The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.”
When we think of a spark that could set a great fire, we could think of revival. We can think of that teacher who inspired someone who did some grand thing in history. Maybe that one coach who inspired an all-star athlete. But the tongue is often seen as a dangerous weapon. And the small spark that sets a blaze, can set a fire that will burn everything in its path. That is why it’s compared to a forest fire. Think of all the wildfires that get out of control every year and cannot be contained.
Remember today the power of your words. Understand that someone you may say could turn into a forest fire. Be intentional with your words. Speak what is lovely, what is helpful, what is right, what is true, what is praiseworthy—speak encouragement and life into people day. Plant seeds of truth and love; don’t set a forest ablaze.
“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” – James 3:5-6 [NLT]
Imagine if you had this precious gem that was worth more than anything else in the entire world. Imagine if you found something that’s more amazing than anything you have ever encountered. Imagine if you discovered something more powerful than anything you have seen before. Now consider the Truth. Consider the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is the precious gem. This is the “something that’s more amazing.” This is the “more powerful than anything you have seen” and so much more!
Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). We understand that all truth is God’s truth. As believers in Jesus Christ, we believe that the Gospel is true. Because we believe in Jesus, we are called children of God. We are sons and daughters of the King. Sadly, it is easy to trade the truth about God for a lie. It has happened in the past and it will continue to happen. Paul wrote about people who did just that, and they “served the things God created” instead of serving God.
Be careful not to do the same. Keep your eyes focused on the truth. To be able to detect the lies of the world, it is crucial that you know the Word of God. To know His Word, you must spend time chewing on it. Read it. Remember it. Keep it with you. Study it. Meditate upon it. The more you embrace His Word, the less likely you will trade the truth for a lie.
“They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator Himself, Who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” – Romans 1:25 [NLT]
He is your life
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. [MSG]
- Christ Raised (v. 1) – Raised along with Christ, raised to life with Christ
- Christ Ruled (v. 1) – Christ rules at God’s right side
- Christ Focused (v. 1-2) – Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth]
- Set your heart on what is in heaven – Seek the things above
- Think – phroneó – Direct your mind to, seek for, observe, care for
- Christ Hidden (v. 3) – You died, your life is hidden with Christ
- You died – apothnéskó – dying off (separation / away from)
- Life – both physical & spiritual (present & future)
- Hidden – kruptó – concealed, secret, hidden
- Christ Glory (v. 4) – Christ gives meaning to your life, and when he appears, you will also appear with him in glory. Glory (doxa– “dox’-ah”) – praise, honor, glory, high renown, splendor
Bible Study Questions:
Seek the things that are above (v. 1) and set your minds on things that are above (v. 2)
These things make the subject of CAREFUL REFLECTION
Think on these things – Give them weight in your decision. Allow them to shape you.
1) In Philippians 4:8, Paul wrote, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT).
This is to be our FOCUS. This is part of seeking and setting your mind. What do these words mean? How does the world derail us from focusing on these things?
HONORABLE / HONEST / NOBLE / WORTHY OF REVERENCE
RIGHT / JUST
PURE / AUTHENTIC
LOVELY / ACCEPTABLE / LOVABLE
ADMIRABLE / GOOD REPORT / KIND AND GRACIOUS
EXCELLENCE / VIRTUE / VIRTUOUS
WORTHY OF PRAISE / PRAISEWORTHY
2) What can we do to follow Proverbs 4:23 command to “watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life”?
This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Colossians. The 12 weeks include:
Matthew 27 / Mark 15 / Luke 23 / John 18-19
Pontius Pilate – Roman Governor –Procurator.
- He was in charge of appointing the high priest and controlling the Temple and funds.
- He had full control of the province.
- He had full powers of life and death as he could reverse capital sentences passed by Sanhedrin.
- He had a bad reputation with Jews and Samaritans.
- He was guilty of slander, robbery, violence and murder – and at least twice was called to account by the Roman imperial authority.
- Because people threatened Pilate, that they would inform the emperor that Pilate hadn’t eliminated a rebel against Rome, Pilate went against what he knew was right. He didn’t do the right thing.
- He was later removed from his office for unnecessary and brutal treatment of his subjects.
- Pagan historians only mention Pilate when mentioning his authorization of the death of Jesus (Tacitus).
- Historians documented that Pilate was forced to commit suicide during reign of Gaius (AD 37-41).
1) DISCOVER THE TRUTH – What is 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).
I believe absolute truth is God’s truth. The Bible is God’s Word and God’s Word is Truth. The Bible says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), which therefore means that He speaks only what is true. The Psalmist writes “Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth” (Psalm 86:11a NLT). God is the source of all truth. I believe Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” and I believe that Jesus is infinite, living Truth.
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.
Some people believe that there is truth and it can be found through science and logic. Anything claimed of God that has no scientific or logically basis is not seen as being true. Other people reject the idea of absolute truth and believe that what may be true for one person is not necessarily what is true for another person. Truth is what we make it to be and we each will find our own truth. That means one person can claim God to be God and that is seen as Truth for that person. Another person may claim that there are three gods and that is truth for that particular person.
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.
Truth is God’s Truth
Jesus is God’s Truth – John 1 says Jesus is full of grace and TRUTH.
God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17) – We find truth when we read & study the Bible. We need the belt of Truth in place (Ephesians 6:14)
We are to correctly handle/explain God’s Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
To be a disciple of Christ, you must continue in His Word and you will KNOW the truth and the truth will SET YOU FREE. (John 8:32)
Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.“ – John 18:37 [NLT]
Every child of God knows the truth as Jesus, and is on the side of truth, and stands by it.
Pilate avoided the truth:
- Tried to get out of the situation? Sent Jesus to Herod (Luke 23:6-17)
- Tried to get someone to side with him?
- Tried to put responsibility on someone else – Told Jews “judge by your own law” – a mockery (John 18:31)
- Tried to escape – offer to release “criminal” (John 18:39)
- Tried to washed his hands – though it didn’t cancel guilt (Matthew 27:24)
- Tried to compromise – Had Jesus flogged (John 19:1-3)
- Tried to appeal to sympathy – Shall I kill your King? (John 19:15)
All this despite Pilate never having doubt of Jesus’ innocence – 3 x’s said NOT GUILTY!
2) DOING THE RIGHT THING EVEN WHEN IT COSTS EVERYTHING
When you know the Truth – then you must make a choice – what will you do with the Truth?
James 1:23-24 speaks about person who stares in the mirror and walks away, forgetting what he looks like. The mirror becomes useless after you walk away from it. James was saying that if we simply hear the word but don’t act, it’s useless just like the mirror.
St. Augustine said, “Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. Right is right even if no one is doing it.”
Right choice could mean
Social Rejection / Career Loss / Public Ridicule
“Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth” (Psalm 86:11a NLT).
Here’s my heart, Lord
Speak what is true
Here’s my life, Lord
Speak what is true
The other morning a dear friend told me about an encounter she had wearing a FearNot Ministries t-shirt. While she was at a local store, someone saw her wearing the shirt and revealed that she was struggling. Because of the struggles she was facing, she just that morning turned to the Bible. She read a verse that told her not to fear—that God was with her. When my friend walked into that store, the FearNot immediately caught her eyes and she remembered what God’s Word promised her that morning.
God’s Word has so many promises, more promises than I can list in a short devotion. When we live our life knowing and trusting in these promises—knowing and trusting God and His Word—life is very different. You cannot recognize God at work, you cannot know God, unless you know His Word. It is so very important to open up your Bible and read. Don’t stop reading. Every day read. Then when you are going through struggles, when you are facing a difficult time in your life, when you are not sure which way to go—you will have His Word written on your heart.
The other day three beautiful girls came over with these hearts they made during church service. The heart displayed a verse that spoke of writing God’s Word on your heart. I asked the girls, “How can you write God’s Word on your heart?” The answer is easy – read God’s Word. Read God’s Word. Delight in His Word. Cherish His Word. Eat His Word. Chew upon it. Take it in. Treasure it. Store it up. Embrace it.
“You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.”
-Psalm 63:1-8 [NIV]
As I read through Genesis, I love to read about Abraham and Sarah and the promise God made to them. In Genesis 21, it states that the Lord visited Sarah. In verse 1, we read, “The LORD visited Sarah AS HE HAD SAID.” Then it continues, “And the LORD did to Sarah AS HE HAD PROMISED.”
We live in a world of brokenness, and this includes broken promises. We can so easily name handfuls of people who have let us down. I bet you are thinking of someone who didn’t do what they said they would do or what they promised. Who hasn’t been let down?
But things are different with God. We cannot (though so many try) define Him by our own human limitations and imperfections. He is perfect. He is holy. He is faithful. And He is a promise keeper. So as you are reading your Bible, remember this—that God keeps His promises. He does as He says. He does as He promises. His word is solid as a rock—His Word is Truth.
“The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised.” – Genesis 21:1 [ESV]
When you are living for Christ, there should be a noticeable difference from the life you had to the life you are living. People should see a difference. People should be asking, “What is different with her?” or “What happened to him?” when they see you. If there is no change, it is likely that you are still living the same life. This is very easy if you stick with doing the same things as you did before.
Paul tells us to “check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.” This is not something done overnight, but it is something that helps us to grow in Christ. The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is not good for you. This can vary from person to person. If it is not good, toss it out. As you slowly remove what is not good, and you surround yourself with what is good and pure and true and worthy of praise, you will start to change. You won’t even realize it is happening.
If you stay right where you are and do not listen to the Spirit, you are neglecting the opportunity to become who you were made to be and you are missing out on so many great things. God promised you that you would do great things through Christ. That is an awesome promise and it is true. You cannot imagine the great plan He has for you. But if you start cling to the good and remove the bad, you will see that plan unfold—and it’s a beautiful plan.
“Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 [MSG]