Belt of Truth
Knowing and Applying God's Truth to Real Life
John 3:1-8 (NKJV) There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
What truth is revealed? Have you ever tried to have a “spiritual” conversation with a non-spiritual person? (And how did that go?) When you try to communicate with a person, who is on a different spiritual wave-length, it’s like trying to carry on a conversation with someone who doesn’t speak the same language—only, in this case, the inability to connect may even be more difficult. Jesus explained it to Nicodemus this way: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
What can we learn from this exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus? Nicodemus had, no doubt, observed Jesus’ ministry and was curious. Jesus was a Rabbi that taught with authority and did miracles. Nicodemus wanted to know what made Jesus tick; Jesus wanted to talk of a spiritual truth that dealt with Nicodemus. Jesus challenged Nicodemus with this idea: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Notice that Jesus used the word, “see.” The original Greek means to “perceive” or to “know” the kingdom of God. Jesus was making the point that in order to understand and perceive the kingdom of God takes a work of God’s Spirit. Even the faith that causes us to believe in Jesus is born of God. This remains the spiritual hurdle that challenges those without Christ; they cannot “see,” “perceive,” or even “imagine” the kingdom of God unless the Spirit reveals it to them.
How can I apply this truth to my life? It is not my job to convince people of the spiritual reality that is God’s Kingdom. It is my job to proclaim the good news of the gospel and let the Holy Spirit reveal Himself. Jesus explains it this way: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” (John 6:44a) This is one of the compelling reasons for prayer. I pray that my friends, neighbors and family members that do not “perceive” the Kingdom of God would be drawn to Jesus through the work of His Spirit.
Questions to Consider:
John 3:19-21 (NKJV) And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."
What truth is revealed? Much has changed in the United States in the last 50 years. We have gone from a country that tries to legislate morality to a country that is actively mandating new political correctness which often supports activity that is condemned by scripture. This is nothing more than loving darkness and defending that darkness against the light.
What can we learn from this teaching? It is the work of the Enemy to deceive people into believing a lie; furthermore, it is man’s inclination to believe the lie in order to embrace the darkness that they have come to covet. The proliferation of pornography is a good example. Even though the mass majority of people believe that it is destructive, exploitative, and undermining the moral fabric of our nation, we protect it under a “pagan” interpretation of the 1st Amendment. On the other hand, we have ripped prayer and the study of the Bible from our Public Schools under another strange manipulation of the 1st Amendment. Jesus was right, “Men love darkness rather than light, because their deed are evil.”
How can I apply this truth to my life? According to 1 John 1:7, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” The best way to expose darkness is to continue being the light of the world. Jesus has called His church to be the light of the world. How can I participate in being the light? Speak the truth in love. Be courageous and not bow a knee to that which is evil. Make sure that the actions of my life are verified by the way that I live.
Questions to Consider:
Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
What truth is revealed? Are you a person who learns things the hard way? You know, the kind of person who ignores all the warning signs and does what they want to do despite the consequences. If that is you, then Jesus offers a better alternative. Take His yoke, pick up your cross and follow Him; live by His wisdom, and you will experience rest.
What can we learn from this teaching? Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, also knows the challenges of life, both the self-inflicted wounds and the undeserved setbacks; in light of those never-ending troubles He offers an exchange: Life for death; Courage for fear; Peace for worry; Light for darkness; Hope for depression; Joy for sorrow; Rest for chaos. His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light.”
How can I apply this truth to my life? I have a choice to make every day: “Live God’s way or live “my” way. My way is like rolling the dice and hoping that my “luck” holds out. His way? Live with integrity, walk in His wisdom, follow His teaching, apply love in all my relationships, put my trust in God and in His goodness, rest in His security.
Questions to Consider:
Matthew 10:25b-28 (NKJV) If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore, do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known. "Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
What truth is revealed? Ever since sin arrived in our world, there has been a spiritual tension between the powers of light and darkness. In Jesus’ time, God’s people (Israel) were under Roman occupation, and Greek culture was the prevailing influence of the time. Pagan worship and attitudes were chipping away at the spiritual heritage of the Jews; and the Jewish leaders were religious to a fault. Jesus was born into this time and place of darkness. When it came to the powers of Beelzebub, Jesus told His disciples, “Do not fear them.”
What can we learn from this story? The history of the world has continued since Jesus was here; but, the truth still remains for followers of Jesus: “We have nothing to fear from Beelzebub or his evil minions.” How can we fight the powers of darkness? We preach the truth. We shout it from the rooftops! We openly embrace and propagate the spiritual truths that Jesus revealed to us; and we never back down or compromise the truth.
How can I apply this story to my life? God has called me to walk with courage. According to Jesus, the only One in the universe that we should fear is God. He is the only One able to destroy both soul and body in hell, and yet, as beloved children of God we have not been appointed to wrath. The Apostle Paul said it this way: (Romans 8:31) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Questions to Consider:
Matthew 10:24-25 (NKJV) “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!”
What truth is revealed? Even two thousand years after His death, people recognize Jesus. “OK,” it is just someone’s idea of what Jesus looked like, but His facsimile remains the most recognizable portrait on our planet. More importantly, do people recognize Jesus in us? As followers of Jesus, (who happens to be the greatest teacher of all time) “we” are to be like our teacher. So, the question remains, “Do our lives mirror His life to the point that people can see Jesus in us?”
What can we learn from this teaching? Jesus made a point: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) This is really what it means to be a disciple of Christ. If He is our first love, then it will be a joy to obey His teaching, and the result will be disciples that reflect His character. As we submit ourselves to Jesus, He (through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit) imprints Himself on us.
How can I apply this story to my life? I consider myself a follower of Christ. He is my teacher; and the author and finisher of my faith. Jesus is absolutely faithful in shaping me through the work of the Holy Spirit. It really helps when I cooperate with the process. In order to “assist” the ongoing work of sanctification, I need to submit to Jesus, obey His teachings and crucify the flesh on a daily basis.
Questions to Consider:
Matthew 10:16-23 (NKJV) "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
What truth is revealed? Jesus never used the word “naiveté” when speaking to His disciples; but, He talked about the concept. Despite Christ’s warning concerning the nature of the world in which we live, many Christians are caught off guard when they are slammed by the evil that exists in our world. Jesus said that we are, “Sheep in the midst of wolves.” Welcome to the real world as defined by Jesus.
What can we learn from this teaching? We need to shake off all naiveté so that we are prepared and ready to respond to the challenges of life. Jesus has called us to, “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” What does this mean? It means that we need to be fully cognizant of the dangers associated with living on planet earth. It also means that we do not contribute and participate in the evil. We are to be wise, and fulfill our calling to be salt and light.
How can I apply this teaching to my life? There is a real possibility that I will experience persecution in the near future. Many secularist have set their sights on marginalizing and destroying anyone and all who stand against their ideas. There is an effort in some political circles to pass legislation that will define portions of the Bible as “hate speech.” Imagine that; jailed for preaching the Gospel. It has happened before, and it will happen again.
Questions to Consider:
Matthew 10:1-15 (NKJV) And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!
What truth is revealed? Jesus has just established the twelve men who would be identified as His disciples. He gives them the “power” to do the work of the ministry along with some special instructions. One of those instructions has caused some heart-burn. “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But, go rather, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Does this command make Jesus a bigot as some secularists have suggested? (“No!”) It simply means that the time for God’s plan to reach the Gentile nations had not yet arrived.
What can we learn from this story? The completed atoning work of the cross was yet to be realized, and it would be the bridge that reached across to the Gentiles. Was Jesus concerned about the Gentiles? His command to reach every ethnic group around the world stands as a monument of Jesus’ good favor towards all people. As Jesus sent His disciples to preach, He armed them with the power of God and a message of hope. These are still the most potent weapons in the work of Evangelism.
How can I apply this story to my life? Jesus talked about the “places” that did not receive the gospel as being in a place of judgment. That is universally true for everyone standing outside of God’s provision of salvation. 1 John 5:11,12 states this truth eloquently. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Questions to Consider:
Ask any Pastor...for that matter, ask anyone involved in the work of the ministry; "Do you have enough to keep you busy?" Contrary to some popular urban legends, "Pastors do not play spend all their week-days playing golf." This Pastor has not had the opportunity or time to play golf in years. In God's Kingdom work there are simply not enough hours, resources or people to complete everything that could be done. No wonder Jesus instructed His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to sent out laborers into His harvest."
What Truth is Revealed? This story gives us some important insight to the heart of God; Jesus was moved with compassion for the multitudes that were weary and scattered. That is what life often does to people, the circumstances of life storm on and people are over-whelmed. What a wonderful opportunity for the Church to step-in and help. "So, Lord we pray, raise up and send laborers into this great harvest!"
How Does this Apply to Me? Firstly, that I would have compassion of the multitudes of people who are weary, hopeless and in need of ministry. Too often, I am too busy. At least that is my weak excuse. So, I pray that the Lord will send laborers into the harvest--starting with me!
Questions to Consider:
Matthew 9:16-17 (NKJV) No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."
What truth is revealed? Is Christ alone really enough? That was the question that the early Believers had to answer. The first Believers were Jewish and then, suddenly, Gentiles were putting their faith in Jesus. This was new wine, and some misguided leaders wanted to put that new wine (Gentiles) into the old wineskins (The Jewish Law). Evidently, this teaching from Jesus had gone unnoticed.
What can we learn from this teaching? The Apostle Paul understood this teaching from Jesus and spent a lot of time and effort thwarting the effort of those who were trying to force the “new” Gentile Believers into becoming followers of the law. Jesus had already made it clear; you cannot put new wine in old wineskins. If you try, you will destroy the old wineskin and spill the new wine; which is a lose—lose proposition. Jesus was the author of a new covenant of grace, and as the early church expanded, the new wine began to roll in.
How can I apply this lesson to my life? As long as the New Testament as been around, “we” are still tempted to propagate a works-oriented righteousness. To pressure new Believers to instantly act like “mature” Christians who keep all the rules. When we do that, we are taking new wine and putting it in old wineskins. I need to leave the work of transformation to Jesus, because, “Jesus alone” is what they need!
Questions to Consider:
Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV) "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
What Truth is Revealed? In case there was any doubt, Jesus made it crystal clear that those who know and apply His teachings are building their lives on a solid foundation that will endure the trauma called life.
What is the Command/Wisdom or Promise? Jesus contrasts the life of a wise man with that of a foolish man. Psalm 14:1a states: “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” The fool ignores the wisdom of God; has built a life based on what is “right” in his own eyes; and the end is a life in perpetual jeopardy.
What Does This Mean to Me and What Action Should I Take? If I want to be considered wise in the eyes of Jesus, then I must build my life on a foundation of behavior that is based on the teaching and values espoused by Jesus. It means that I must 1) Know the teachings of Jesus; and I must 2) Apply the teachings of Jesus to my life.
Questions to Consider:
As revealed by God through the Life and Message of Christ; through the wisdom of Solomon; through the letters of the Apostles; through the inspiration of God.