Posts tagged Truth
The Word
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It was a number of weeks ago I felt the Spirit of God pushing me to explore the book of John a little deeper. This was both frightening and encouraging, because I always enjoy reading the book of John, but felt less prepared to really “study.” Recently, while listening to the Bible Project Podcast, I learned John wrote his gospel from a reflective mindset. Perhaps this explains his poetic style or his ability to constantly point back to Jesus being the Christ, one with God. But God wasn’t asking me to read the whole book.

As I began reading, I found myself constantly traveling back to the first five verses of the Book of John. It was like a tick, I didn’t feel satisfied until I read those verses: once, twice, move on, come back. It was hard to go through the day without thinking of those verses. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  … “In the beginning” … “In the beginning”... I knew that phrase! So I decided to flex my study skills (something I’m not so confident in) and go back to Genesis.

Genesis 1 opens with, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The use of this phrase in John would have prompted his readers to return to or remember this opening line. They would have had the same reaction as me, thinking “Oh! I know this. God created in the beginning, and somehow the “Word” was there with Him. How could that be?” From this point, I did a side-by-side comparison of the first five verses of both passages to find other connections.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome itIn the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
John 1: 1-5

 

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Genesis 1:1-5

 

Some initial similarities I saw where

  • Both passages open with “In the beginning”

  • Both passages deal with light (physical and spiritual)

  • Both passages deal with creation

My question became: What is the connection between “the Word” and God speaking? Is there a connection? 

Enter the dragon! I mean...word study. A tool I think is great... for other people -mainly because I am not so confident in using it, but it was something God was asking me to do.  I waited a few days and then started the process. (Honesty is important, right?) As long as I’m being honest, I did not solely focus on this connection while studying, and I do not do well with Greek/Hebrew, so I relied on Logos and Blue Letter Bible to help me examine these things.

One of the key pieces of information I found was the Greek used by John when he wrote “the Word” implies “speech in action,” which agrees with the English translation of the Hebrew used in Genesis, “God said.” Both mean this speaking is active. Then, the Blue Letter Bible blew my mind OUT OF THE WATER by connecting these two sections for me. They know this is a common connection and I’m just a little late to the party. The commentators stated John implies that God is speaking in the present, but has also been speaking in ETERNITY PAST (the Word was with God) and will continue speaking into ETERNITY FUTURE.

In short : God has always been talking to himself, and at some point He decided to speak into creation and give us this world and life. INCREDIBLE.

Then, I froze. This was all amazing, and I was so excited, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I started a new job, I was stressed, and I stopped listening to the God who is always speaking.

BUT GOD….

I knew I needed to  read the Bible, even if I was stressed, and decided to pick back up in 1 Samuel. I skimmed through Hannah’s prayer, and reread Samuel hearing  from God for the first time. As I read, I saw Samuel responding three times to the wrong voice. He would run to Eli, the Priest in charge of the temple and say “Here I am!” But Eli wasn’t calling. It took Eli until the THIRD time to say, “Samuel, you are hearing the voice of God. The next time this happens, respond to Him.”

The God who is constantly speaking into creation wants to participate in a true conversation with you.

Wow, God is persistent. And boy, are we blessed by that. Even this man of faith, one who had devoted his life to being in God’s presence, wasn’t sure who Samuel should be responding to until the third time.  Samuel, knowing it was God, then changed his response. He says, “yes, Lord, I am listening.” To me, Samuel went from active to peaceful, from talking to listening. He decided to hear what God was calling him to do.

I was deeply encouraged by this, because I was reminded of the times I fail. I will look for a response in my work, in my relationships, in trying harder, rather than being still to listen for the voice of God. Sometimes I hear Him calling, and I actively run away, like Jonah. Sometimes I am waiting for Him in the fire and thunder, rather than a whisper, like Elijah on the mountain. I need to be practicing my listening skills, to become more familiar with the voice of my shepherd, like Jesus says in John. How can I do that? I’ve thought of a few ways and would like to invite you to join me. Whether it is in preparation for Summer Study, or a simple desire to hear God more clearly.

  1. Pray. This sounds easy, but it’s not the prayer where we spend all the time talking, it’s the prayer where we sit down and tell God, “I’m listening.” Practice with me taking time without your phone, without music, without distraction, to focus on God and His voice. If you find yourself struggling, tell Him. There is such power in admitting our weakness! He must become greater, and I must become less.

  2. Read your Bible and Use your tools. Again, easy? Maybe. Difficult to do consistently? For sure! I would encourage you to start with a passage you know well and do some cross referencing. Or discover the context of the passage/book. Know what you’re reading, who it’s to, and why they wrote it. If you feel adequate in that (Not perfect, just comfortable) move into a passage that feels unfamiliar. Practice feeling out of your depth and go to the Lord. Then start using your tools before going to a commentary or your study notes. This is SO HARD and can make me feel like I’m not doing anything, but not all waiting is bad or disobedient. If you aren’t sure if your waiting is disobedient to the Lord and you are struggling to hear Him, try the next “step.”

  3. Ask a friend! Maybe not just any friend, but one you trust is also working on hearing from the Lord. Often, my husband helps to redirect me when I’m just feeling “lost” to see my unbelief or doubt that is leading me to resist the voice of God. If He was speaking to you from YOUR beginning, He is speaking to you now.

The God who is constantly speaking into creation wants to participate in a true conversation with you. One with a call and response. One where we allow Him to speak, knowing His words are true, full of grace and mercy, dripping with forgiveness as sweet as honey from the honeycomb. Let us practice stillness and listening in a world so full of busyness and monologuing. Peace be with you (and also with you.)


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Kate Haas wants to live in a world with free coffee, hugs, and deep conversations. When she isn’t in class, you can find her at home with her husband and four-legged toddler reading a book or watching a detective show. Her favorite scripture is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. [Amen? Amen!]”

Something she finds comforting when reading the Bible (esp. the OT) is in this verse: "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." Deuteronomy 29:29 (comforting to know God has given us what we need, and He is over all the things we don't understand.)

Living in Light of Truth {DWITW 365}
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The book of Isaiah leads us through chapter upon chapter about God’s righteousness. This week, we continue to read many chapters about God as a righteous Judge, as well as His comfort and His promises fulfilled. In Isaiah chapters 28-34 we hear Isaiah proclaiming the judgment that will be coming - both for God’s enemies and His people (Isaiah 33:22). The language is harsh, and our first instinct can be to recoil and deny that this is the same God of love who gave us His Son, Jesus. We think, along with Isaiah, ‘Who is perfectly righteous? Surely no one is!’ However, as we continue to read, we begin to see a new message that Isaiah is proclaiming: a message of hope. A message about God’s comfort and how His promises are and will be fulfilled (Isaiah 43-48).

Israel is trying to follow their own paths and desires, and are not measuring up to God’s vision for their lives or to His standard for their holiness. In fact, they are not even attempting to live toward God’s vision for their lives or His standards! And then right in the middle of the book, we find the story of a king and his men who do choose to live up to God’s standards.

How were the Israelites able to decipher who indeed was speaking the truth?

Let’s take a closer look at Hezekiah’s story in Isaiah ch. 35-39. These chapters tell us about an incident that happened among the Israelites, and their enemy the Assyrians. The Assyrians had just captured the fortified cities of Judah. It seemed that evil was winning and that those who were not following God were having just as much or more success than God’s people. After conquering much of Judah, the Assyrians sent a message to the Israelites, stirring up doubts and raising questions about the truths of God (Is. 36:1-10; Is. 37:8-13). The Assyrians claimed to have a knowledge and power from God, and they claimed that the Israelites heard the wrong message! The Israelites had been told that following God would result in His blessings, and that not following God would result in His judgement. However, the Assyrians taunted: How were the Israelites able to decipher who indeed was speaking the truth? Was it Hezekiah or was it the Assyrian leaders? Which side was speaking the truth that came from God? How could they know which plan of action to follow? Let’s take a look at how King Hezekiah handled the chaos brewing amongst his people:

 

1. He did not immediately answer (Is. 36:21-37:1) - More than likely, he was able to immediately think of answers to give, of ways to defend himself, of mighty warriors to call on to prove his name, but instead he kept silent.
2. He consulted Isaiah, God’s prophet and spokesman (Is 37:1-4) - He knew he needed help to understand what to do, beyond himself; so, he sought wise counsel. He did not seek out all the other prophets and seers and people that he knew, but instead he turned to the wise man of God, whose advice he trusted.
3. He prayed (Is 37:14-20) - Hezekiah went by himself and prayed to the Lord, asking for wisdom, power and that the glory would ultimately go back to God.
4. He spoke truth to himself and his people (Is 37:18-20) - He declared who he was, who the enemy was, and who his God was - that his God, Yahweh, was powerful able to save!

We, too, live in a time where it is not easy to determine which voices we are hearing are speaking the truth. So many voices come at us throughout the day - many from people we trust, and many from powerful, successful people whom the world deems “right.” We hear messages that contain morsels of truth, but the message itself may be blasphemous to the God we follow. In these cases, we can take the simple yet profound approach that King Hezekiah took.

First, like Hezekiah, we can step back and take some time to be in silence before the Lord (Prov 29:20; Prov 18:2; James 1:19). We don’t need to have an answer immediately, even if we feel that we need to prove ourselves. This does not mean that we don’t ever do anything, but instead we are exercising wisdom by taking the time to step back and process.

We, too, live in a time where it is not easy to determine which voices we are hearing are speaking the truth.

Then, let us pursue wisdom from those who are more knowledgeable than us (Prov 19:20-21). This may be a husband or wife, a pastor, or a trusted friend who has proven themselves to be a servant of God. Remember, this is not seeking the opinions of anyone, but instead finding godly counsel from those who are seekers of God themselves. They may have insight into the situation that we do not have, and may be able to guide us to places in Scripture that bring God’s voice of truth and ultimately God’s glory to the situation.

Next, we must pray (1 John 5:14-15; Eph 6:18). We must set aside time to ask God for His answer to the question. We must take the time to explore the Scripture that He has given us in order to determine what His voice is telling us to do.

Finally, we must not forget to speak the truth to ourselves (Zechariah 8:16; Eph 4:25). The truth may be that someone is powerful and successful, but does that make their words right when compared to the Word of our God? It is true that someone may have some good points, but do they stand up to the truth that we have in Scripture?

We can keep all these things in mind as we seek to find the truth in our worlds, and seek to know that when we aim to live as God desires we represent Him well in those realms.

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Suzanne Hines wants to live in a world where sunflowers bloom in eternal summer, where her children play instead of argue and where her family has an endless budget for travel. When she's not loving her husband, training and teaching her three children, and spreading education on the foster care system, you can find her writing, reading or running outside!

Her favorite Scripture is Romans 12:12 "...be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer..." (NIV)