I want to thank Jo Ann Whitaker for her post this week. It was a timely reminder for me after a week filled with the news of loved ones who have passed away. While not within my family, they were certainly among friends I hold as dear as any family member. I noted specifically the reminder that we are to pray for one another. This caught my attention most because of the note of encouragement I received this week from Wanda Aiken to let me know that she was praying for me.
ENCOURAGING TRUTH! by Jo Ann Whitaker
As we finish up the book of Ephesians I’ve noticed a theme. Encouragement! Throughout the book we see the encouragement from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, encouragement of the Gospel, the encouragement Paul offers to Believers in the Church and his encouraging us to encourage each other.
The last lesson (Ephesians 6:10-24) focuses on a very well-known passage. We’re all familiar with putting on the full armor of God, who we’re fighting, the fiery darts and the need to stand firm. This in itself is encouraging. This reminder that we’re not fighting flesh and blood is also helpful in our everyday lives. Evil is what we’re fighting – not a person in the form of a family member, ex, neighbor, addict, criminal or any number of people or individuals. This changes everything because this tells us what we fighting, how to fight it and how to win the battle, even though these details show us it is multifaceted. Plus, we have Christ and the host of heaven on our side! To dig into a few of these tools, we have the gospel of peace (reconciliation) and a shield of faith (hope). We have the Holy Spirit to guide us and the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, both to protect and defend us. We have prayer as a privilege and as a difference maker in our lives and those around us…for our families, church, leaders, believers, the lost, circumstances and even for our enemies. Paul encourages us to stay alert, persevere and pray for each other and for boldness in proclaiming the mystery of the gospel. These truths are a blessing and an encouragement as we walk out our faith in a broken world!
One set of Daniel’s questions in our devotional really stood out to me:
How well do you know the truth?
Could you defend it?
Or, has most of what you believe simply been passed down to you through tradition?
When I read a book, I usually walk away with one major memory or point. Many years ago when reading Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud, the thought that “just because I believe it, doesn’t mean it’s true” hit me hard. That started me on a quest to do my best to make sure that I searched, believed and shared truth from a Biblical perspective. It is a journey and I’m still searching and learning. The ultimate truth is rooted in the Word of God. How well do we know His word? Do we know what we’ve read, watched, heard in churches, been told by our families, our leaders and politicians, in books, song lyrics and TV to be lined up with biblical truth or is it “traditions of men”, the opinions of others, passed down family religious traditions, the latest self-help guru, prosperity teachings or pop culture? Are we being led astray?
One statement I regularly used on my kids when they were growing up was, “half the truth is still a lie”. As adults, they are very truthful even when I sometimes don’t always want to hear it! Are we known as truthful? Do we withhold key facts to distort truth? Does the truth matter to us? Knowing the truth, telling the truth and discerning the truth should be very important to us because the truth matters. After all, Jesus is the way, the TRUTH and the life! And He is the truth that sets us free. And again, that offers encouragement!
Our culture says things like share “your” truth. That’s kind of laughable to me. Which truth? Mine version of it or yours? Without the absolute truth of scripture, anything could qualify as truth. We need to search what we believe to make sure it is actually true. Do we have all the facts? Is what I believe jaded by the crowd I’m in, my circumstances, how I was raised, my political leaning? Do these things line up with scripture? We as believers should be very careful that what we chose to believe, what informational sources we trust and that what we share in word and in deed lines up with scriptural truth! Since we will answer for our words (and posts are words), we should be carefully with our spoken and written words, in the advice we give others and what we share on social media! The Bible addresses when we should speak up and even when we should be silent, but you have to know the truth of the Word to properly use it.
Let us encourage each other in our battles, our walk and the TRUTH of the Word!
As we approach Christmas, ask yourself if your beliefs line up with scripture? Am I truthful? Where did I get that belief? Do I believe the truth? Do I speak truth in love? Do a Bible search on the words true and truth. Write down a verse that speaks to you and focus on it. Here’s my focus verse from my search:
Teach me your way, O Lord , that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. – Psalms 86:11 ESV
I join Paul in encouraging us to seek truth and to encourage one another! Who can you pray for and encourage this week?
Merry Christmas as we celebrate the truth of the Good News of the birth of Jesus Christ and all that is encompassed by the Gospel!
Things to Know:
- If you are not involved in a Life Group you can find a complete listing of our Life Groups by clicking HERE
- Last week we did not have a sermon due to the weather. You can access previous sermons through our website at forestville.org.
- You can get a member book for the study at the Life Group table in the Worship Center this Sunday or through this link: Ephesians Study Part 3.