Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Five Simple Words

How many times have you heard people taking an oath? Many of us grow up learning to take oaths. Remember as a child hearing another peer say, "I cross my heart and hope to die" when making a promise? Our pledge of allegiance is an oath, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America..." When an individual testifies in a court of law or before Congress, they take an oath to "solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God." Even in marriage we promise to take a man or woman as our lawfully wedded husband/wife. Anytime we take an oath whether as a child or an adult, we trust that the individual is sincere and will honor their pledge. However, we have no way of knowing the real intention of their heart. Sadly, there are too many times when people are paying only "lip service" to their commitments. Last week I was reading chapter 13 of John's gospel. It is a familiar and very powerful passage wherein Jesus demonstrates the full extent of His love and sacrifice. He humbly washes the feet of His disciples. After doing so, Jesus shares a final meal, and talks about His betrayal. Jesus tells the disciples, "I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the One who sent me." (John 13:20) What captured my attention was Jesus' initial words, "I tell you the truth.." For those who cherish the King James version these words are translated, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee.." Those five simple words struck a chord in my Spirit. How many times did Jesus say those five words to His disciples? How many times does Jesus say the same thing to us? Many of us as believers struggle with doubt about God's promises. The challenge for each of us is to ask the question,"How can I doubt God's promises when He is the only One who tells the truth all the time? The truth without deception, the truth without lies, the truth without any hidden agenda. Any truth that comes forth from the mouth of God can be believed and trusted. God's truth is not in need of any embellishment or explanation. Moreover, God's word accomplishes all that He ordains. (Isaiah 55:11; Hebrews 4:12) Doubt is not necessarily an indication of a weak faith but rather a reality that we as human beings experience when we cannot easily have all our questions answered or fully understand who God is. This is especially true when we experience circumstances or situations that are painful and make no logical sense. Faith requires an element of trust in a Being we cannot fully experience with our senses nor can we easily place Him in a box. The beautiful and amazing thing about God is that He loves us without condition and Jesus' five simple words can be placed in front of any truth written in His word. (I tell you the truth), "God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) (I tell you the truth), "Behold I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Revelation 22:12)  (I tell you the truth), "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Matthew 24:35) I am grateful that all God's promises are punctuated with these five simple words, "I tell you the truth" because in those words I can rest, knowing that although I may never fully understand why things happen as they do, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is faithful.
Shalom,
Pastor Sheree