Grace                                                       

The Truth of the Matter...
  Have you ever thought about going skydiving?  If you did go, you would probably make absolutely sure you had all the right equipment, right?  You wouldn't jump out of the plane without a super secure parachute strapped tightly to you back!  What if your friend erroneously announced, "I don't need this,"?  You'd probably strongly urge them to reconsider, believing full well they would be facing certain death.  But, he's nonchalant and seems to think its all good.

You and your friend have very different ideas about truth.  Truth can seem illusive to some, but without an absolute truth no one way of thinking can claim to be truthful.  Truth does exist, whether or not it is perceived and believed by individuals.

Pilot quickly asked Jesus, "What is truth," and then left, not considering truth or who Jesus is.  He was concerned with living in the moment, taking care of the situation at hand, and honoring the wishes of men for his own political agenda.

The Sanhedrin was not much different.  Pilot was in Jerusalem to keep a close eye on the Jews' Passover celebrations and the size of their population at large.  So, the Sanhedrin took advantage of his presence by brining Jesus to him and it was pure political manipulation.  Yet, the leaders of the Jews would not enter the Roman palace to fulfill their evil plot of getting Jesus executed. Why?  The answer is because they would become defiled being with Gentiles thereby preventing their participation in part of the seven day Passover celebration.  They were so careful to observe the Jewish law outlined by God in the Old Testament and yet could not see the truth- the fulfillment of the law (John 1:1), right in front of them.  They, too, were concerned with living in the moment, taking care of the situation at hand, and honoring the wishes of men for their own political agenda.

They were seeking to control the events of the day in hopes to make life better for themselves in the realm of earthly establishments.  Jesus came to earth to testify of truth through spiritual establishments.  The first didn't recognize the importance of the latter.

The question at hand is, "What is truth?" 

Oh, how I wish Jesus would have answered Pilot!  I would have loved to have read about His words of love and wisdom regarding truth at this point.  To be honest, I was little disappointed He was silent here.  However, He didn't get a chance to answer Pilot's rhetorical (or dare I say cynical?) question. 
Here is something Jesus says about truth…

John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

Jesus is I AM.  In this verse He is stating that He is the great I AM and the same as the Old Testament, Yahweh, which are extremely powerful and specifically chosen words.  For anyone else to utter these words would be nothing less than blasphemous.  But for Jesus, they were truth.

John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God."  This verse is telling us that Jesus is the Word.  All things originated with Him in the beginning.  He is LORD over the physical and the spiritual world- a true King, indeed!  The standard of truth He brings is absolute and no other earthly 'truth' can stand up to it.  He is the only truth.

The truth you and I need to grasp is that Jesus is truth.  Spiritual truth that is good for us, who live on earth and are born into sin, because He is the great I AM.  In a fallen world where it seems right to try and make things better for ourselves by being concerned with the moment, taking care of our situations at hand, and honoring the wishes of men, we have a better way!

Pilot did not take time to recognize the source of truth right under his nose.  And, sources tell us that he later committed suicide.  Life without spiritual truth always leads to death.

We do not need to wade through the mud and mire and try to figure out the best way on our own because we will never find it.  The truth is available to us to lead the way.  We have hope.  We have a future.  We have truth.  We have Jesus.

God's spiritual truth for us is wrapped up in His plan of salvation for us.  The sum of human history is under God's guidance to provide love, grace, and forgiveness to a broken sinful world.  How do we get spiritual truth? The same way the disciples did.  We believe Jesus is the truth and obey His commands.  We confess our sins to Him, ask forgiveness, and receive the salvation only He can provide.  They knew He took their sin.  Then, they went out and told others!  Why would we do this?  We do because He is the only way, truth, and life.  Outside of Him lies and death wait for us.

To those of us who already love Jesus and His truth I feel compelled to ask, how does it play out in your daily life?  How has it changed your being concerned with the moment, taking care of situations, and honoring the wishes of men?  Like the disciples, who are you telling?

Please be encouraged to feel His presence in your life each and every day.  Relish in Him so you do not miss Him who is right in front of you.  Don't miss an opportunity to share the truth with someone today!

Amen.

by Andrea Simmons
  
John 18:37-38
"'Then You are a king?' Pilate said.  'You say that I am a king,' Jesus answered.  'For this reason I was born and have come into the world, to testify the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.' 'What is truth?' Pilate asked.  And having said this, he went out again to the Jews and told them, 'I find no basis for a charge against Him…'"
Grace is Not Blind
When my fifteen-year-old daughter, Claire, was four years old she asked me for a glass of water.  Since it was a reasonable request I went right then to get her some.  When I put the cup in her tiny hand, she immediately dumped it out on the carpet.  Let me tell you, on the outside I calmly said, "Since you did that you are going to get a swat."  On the inside I was thinking, "Girl!  Oh, no you di'nt!"

She saw the momma look in my eyes and took off running.  Sadly enough, the race was on.  She squished herself behind a stand housing a large tube T.V.  No problem, I'll just carefully inch the stand over and retrieve my little girl.  Things did not go according to plan because somehow the inching turned into toppling and the T.V. fell into the middle of the living room into a thousand pieces.  I looked at that T.V. and then at Claire.  Her eyes were wide with fear.  I calmed her by reassuring her that mom broke the T.V. and she was not in trouble for that, but she was still getting her swat.

Soon we sat by the now cleaned up water puddle and hugged, prayed, and talked.  She was answering my questions with all the right answers.  Brilliant!  My last question was, "Do you have anything you want to say?"  Her response was, "I'm sorry, Mom."

In my house I'm sorry in and of itself does not fly so I prodded her on, "I'm sorry for…"

You will not believe what she said, and I quote, "I'm sorry you brought me the wrong cup."

No. Stinkin'. Way!

Epic mom fail.

Nonetheless, the bible gives parents instructions on parenting.  Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

I've always seen discipline and punishment as two different things.  Punishment is an action taken against the child for wrong doing, a consequence.  Discipline is not necessarily a punishment, but guidance to direct the child into a correct path of living.  Both are used guide and encourage the child to live correctly in the ways of the LORD.

I heard someone once say that if they were going to make a mistake in parenting, they would rather error on the side of love.  I thought that was good, so I've adopted it.  But, God never errors.  His ways are always perfect when He deals with us whether it is for punishment or discipline.  However, I am so thankful for His grace.

Before grace we were born into sin, enemies of God, breaking His laws, not able to justify ourselves, and deserving death because of our state.  Post grace, after receiving Christ into our hearts and Him forgiving us of our sins by our request, we are saved and justified, have access to God and His comforts, encouragement, and strength, have a future and a hope, and have discipline to live a holy life.  The gift of grace is not by merit and superiority, but a gift to all who will receive it.

Grace is not a blind eye.  God saw our desperate need in the state we were in and took care of it through His son.  Grace is an active gift to us.  Because of Jesus, we now have access to God and He uses His loving kindness to guide us in the right direction, which is most often contrary to our selfish nature.

Just as we discipline our children and do not turn a blind eye to their disobedience, God does the same.  In fact, we learned it from Him.  Hebrews 12:11, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."  In all the discipline we may endure, God is still gentle and loving towards us wanting to give us a harvest of righteousness and peace. 

Luke 11:13, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"  He wants good things for us, just like we do our own children.  He does not want to hurt us, just like we do not want to hurt our own children.

God, I am not a perfect parent but you are.  I do not deserve all the good gifts you have held out openly to us.  Help me to desire nothing else but you.  Teach me what it means to accept your grace and live under the umbrella of it.  Thank you, my Good Father, for your grace, discipline, and instruction.  All of these things at work in me will work towards my highest potential in you and will ultimately bring you glory.  I want to know you more.  Amen.

By Andrea Simmons  
Ephesians 6:4
 "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."