If You Love Me

“If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15 NIV)


We have a 13-year-old beagle named Lucy, and she is a wonderful dog. During my coffee with the Lord this morning, John 14:15 “wiggled” on the page. As I reflected on this very simple, yet very profound, verse, Lucy came to mind. She’s not trained, but she’s very obedient–always has been. Her obedience isn’t the slavish, downtrodden duty of a dog that has been kicked into submission. Rather, it’s the happy, almost worshipful devotion of a dog that loves her master.

I remember when we got Lucy from a shelter. She was two and full of spunk (she still has the spunk at 13, it’s just a little slower). It seemed evident to us that she had been handled roughly by a man in her past. She was skittish around men, taking on a beaten-down posture of fearful submission and growling if a man came too close. We brought her into our basement, and I spent the next few hours sitting with her. At first, she wasn’t having any part of it, but after a while, she came around. Once I had her trust, I was surprised at how quickly she picked up on what I wanted her to do and did it. She wants to please, loves the praise she receives and is eager to obey (unless there’s a squirrel or a rabbit, then all bets are off).

God brought Lucy to mind as an illustration of what He desires from me. He doesn’t want slavish, downtrodden duty from a beaten-down broken-spirited servant kicked into submission. He desires joy-filled, loving, worshipful devotion from a child who loves his Father and wants to feel God’s smile. It’s not about doggedly following a list of rules out of fear, it’s about loving Jesus enough to figure out what He wants and do it. Why? Because that is the essence of love, pouring yourself out for another. That’s what Jesus did for us. His wish is my command, not because I need to check off my be-a-good-person checklist, but because I love Him. I follow Him out of love.

My prayer for the week is that God will whisper something to you, and you’ll spring into action with all the joy of a child running an errand for his/her Father (or a beagle running to the door for a biscuit, lol).

Your Word is Truth pt 2

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NIV)


This is part two of a two-part post. In part one, we looked at the second have of John 17:17, “your word is truth.” In this part, we’ll look at the first half of the verse, “Sanctify them by the truth.”

Sanctify them by the truth

I recently watched Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey, a documentary about Billy Graham on Netflix. I didn’t know this, but in the 1940s, a few years into his preaching ministry after he’d already started to become famous, Dr. Graham had a minor crisis of faith. In those days, the progressive theologians, Bible scholars, and pastors who were up with the times were abandoning the truth of God’s Word. The popular opinion among many mainline Protestant church leaders was that the Bible really wasn’t “truth.” It was full of myth, legend, error, morality stories, etc., but it couldn’t be considered “God’s Word.”

Dr. Graham described how he began to doubt the authority and truth of the Bible, but then made a decision to accept it on faith. He said, “I got on my knees and told God, ‘Just as I accepted Jesus on faith, so now I accept the Bible as Your Word on faith.'” From that moment on, he said there was a power, an authority, and confidence in his ministry that hadn’t been there before.

God’s Word is powerful and effective. As Jesus said in John 17:17, God’s Word is truth. He didn’t say, “Your Word is true,” but rather, “Your Word is truth.” The Bible isn’t just a book of true statements, facts, and historical information. It certainly is true, but it is more than that. It is truth, and truth has the power to change lives. That’s what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Sanctify them by the truth…” (John 17:17a NIV). The word sanctify means “to make holy” or “to purify or free from sin.” God’s Word sanctifies us–it makes us holy, it purifies us, it sets us free from sin; it is the truth that changes our lives forever.

Here is just a sliver of the truth that God’s Word reveals. Accepting this as the defining truth of our lives will transform us and make us holy as we live according to it (over time, of course).

  • Every inclination of the human heart is evil, even from childhood. (Gen. 8:21)
  • There is no one on earth who never sins. (Eccl. 7:20)
  • Every human being is sinful and has committed sins. (1 John 1:8-10)

We have to acknowledge that we have a problem, namely, sin. Only then can we receive the Savior. Jesus doesn’t just save us from our hurts, our pain, and our sorrows. He saves us from our sin. Yet, so many today don’t want to confess their sin. The problem is, we can’t be sanctified by the truth unless we accept the truth–we are sinners. But God’s truth doesn’t end with revealing our sin. Jesus saves us from our sin in what has come to be known as the Great Exchange:

  • “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

The Bible teaches many things about how Jesus changes us. Believing these statements will transform our relationship with God, with ourselves, and with others. Here are just a few points:

  • I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
  • I belong to God. (1 Cor. 6:20)
  • God will complete the work He has begun in me. (Php. 1:6)
  • I am a citizen of Heaven. (Php. 3:20)
  • I am forgiven. (Eph. 1:8)
  • I have a purpose. (Eph. 1:9)
  • I have a hope. (Eph. 1:12)
  • God desires me to be fruitful. (John 15:5)
  • I am invited to be God’s co-worker. (2 Cor. 6:1)
  • I am a dwelling for the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 2:22)
  • I am not alone. (Heb. 13:5)
  • I am victorious. (1 John 5:4)
  • I am no longer condemned. (Rom. 8:1)
  • I have been chosen and appointed by Jesus. (John 15:16)

There are so many more things the Bible has to say about who we are, what happened to us when we accepted Christ, and what God wants for us. And there is even more truth about who God is, what He’s done, and what His plans are for the world! Allowing the truth to penetrate your heart and mind will change everything about you. For our church this next season, we are internalizing this truth:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20 NIV)

The life we live is Christ’s life. My prayer this week is that God will show us all where our lives are not aligned with His so that we can die to our false understanding of the world and come alive to the Truth in Christ.

Your Word is Truth pt. 1

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17, NIV)


This is a two-part post. In this first part, we’ll look at the second half of John 17:17, “your word is truth.”

Your Word is Truth

We live in a culture that is constantly asking, “What is truth? You have your truth, I have my truth. That’s true in your eyes, but something different is true in my eyes. This is how I feel, my feelings are real, and therefore this is what is true to me.” We have lost the concept that truth is an objective correspondence to reality. We have replaced it with the idea that “truth” is my perspective of reality and my feelings about reality.

The implications of this are massive and damning.  For one thing, if truth is defined by what we feel or from our perspective, how can we ever be wrong? Who can contradict how I feel? If I am living true to my feelings, how can I be convicted of sin? It is impossible for me to lie because I’m simply telling “my truth.” It’s impossible for me to do anything wrong because I’m simply living out of “my reality.” And if I can’t sin, I can’t acknowledge sin because there’s no sin to acknowledge. And if I can’t confess my sin, I can’t repent because there’s no sin to turn away from. I don’t need Jesus to save me from my sin that doesn’t exist.

Additionally, our popular thinking about truth means there is no solid foundation on which to build our lives–there are only the shifting sands of feelings and perspectives. Remember the children’s song? If our houses are built on the sand, when the rains come down and the floods come up our foolish lives go splat.

Thirdly, often our feelings don’t correspond to reality. We start to believe things about ourselves that aren’t true, even though it’s how we feel at the time. This is very evident with eating disorders. I’m told that people who are anorexic look in the mirror and see an overweight reflection even though they are often dangerously underweight. They feel like they are “fat,” and they believe their feelings rather than reality. But this isn’t just a problem with eating disorders. People believe all kinds of things about themselves that are not true. I’m ugly. I’m stupid. I’m awkward. No one could love me. I’ll never amount to anything. I’m too far gone for God to want me. I have nothing to offer. All my friends on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram have it together more than me. If I can’t be like _________________ (fill in the blank), I’ll never be accepted. If this is how you feel, your feelings are lying to you!

In John 17:17, Jesus said a single sentence that will change everything we know. In fact, just the second phrase, “your word is truth,” is a paradigm-changing, profound statement that will literally turn your world upside down. Truth is not what we feel. Truth is not what I see from my perspective. Truth is not what popular opinion says it is, or what the majority vote says it should be. Truth is revealed in God’s Word. God is the Author of truth. What He says is not only real but true–regardless of how I feel about it or what I think about it; whether I like it or not.

My prayer for this week is that God will show you something you have been believing that isn’t truth, and that He will help you find the truth that He has spoken over you.

More Than You Can Bear

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:12-13a, NIV)

Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t show you all of His will for you? There have been so many times in my life that I wished God would just tell me His whole plan for me! However, in my experience, He typically gives only one or two steps at a time. When I have the faith and courage to take the step He’s shown me, God reveals the next step, and then the next, and so on. One step at a time He leads us along the path He’s laid out for us–but He only shows us the next step.

In John 16, Jesus told His disciples they couldn’t handle knowing God’s full plan. If they’d known the full details about Jesus’ death, resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the persecution they would suffer as followers of Jesus, they probably would’ve abandoned ship right then and there. I don’t think any of us could’ve walked the path the disciples walked if we’d seen where the path was leading. And I’m not convinced we would walk the path laid out for us if we could see all the twists, turns, bumps, roadblocks, and dangers ahead.

Maybe one reason why God only shows us a step at a time is that revealing His full plan to us would be more than we could bear.

Thankfully, He doesn’t have to give us the full download all at once. Instead, He gave us Himself, His Holy Spirit, who guides us one step at a time into the truth and will of God. May the Lord forgive me when I get frustrated because I can’t see more than a step on the path ahead! My prayer for this week is that we will trust God and take whatever step He’s called us to, even though we can’t see what lies beyond it.


Photo by remi skatulski on Unsplash

I know what the Bible says, but…

Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. Yet…” (John 7:21-22a, NIV).

In the passage I read this morning from John’s Gospel (John 7:14-9:12), the tension between Jesus and the Jewish people is palpable.  They simply refused to acknowledge who He was, debating and arguing and reasoning their way out of faith in Jesus–even when He was performing miracles, teaching Scripture, calling them back to God, showing love and compassion without measure, and living without sin in every way.  The Jews were amazed by Jesus’s miracles, yet angry with Him for healing a man on the Sabbath, and they were even accusing Him of being demon-possessed.

Jesus was incredulous, and rightly so!  In spite of everything He’d done for them, they still refused to believe in Him.  He does one miracle and the crowds are amazed by it… yet, not amazed enough to actually follow Jesus and receive Him as Lord.

How many times in my own life have I been amazed by God, but unmoved in my heart?  Too many to count!  I have often heard others say (and, I’ll confess, sometimes I’ve thought myself) these seven deadly words, “I know what the Bible says, but…”  Oh, that those words would never escape our lips!  May we never fail to be moved by the wonder, the grace, the Truth, and the beauty of God’s Word and the Savior it reveals to us.  Be amazed and be moved this week.

In Christ,
Pastor Andy

Two Witnesses, One Word

On December 21, I got to preach from the Gospel of John.  Both John the Apostle and John the Baptizer testified that Jesus, the Word who became flesh, was the Son of God, God himself who had become a human being.  This rather audacious claim that Jesus is God has to be addressed – it cannot be ignored!  Jesus will either be received or rejected; there is no middle ground.  What will you decide?