For the Love of God’s Word

Falling In Love Pic

 

“Truth is a glorious but hard mistress. She never consults, bargains, or compromises.” -A.W. Tozer

 

If I’m honest, I didn’t always love reading the Bible after coming to know the Lord. I had a lot to “catch up” on I guess you could say. It was overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start. But one thing I did know, I now had this new desire to WANT to learn, only because of the Holy Spirit now living inside of me. This is when I started digging into Bible studies, word studies, and commentaries to learn and study God’s Word. It wasn’t merely enough just to read Christian books. I wanted more. I wanted more of Jesus. I wanted Him. This is where my love for His Word began. I couldn’t get enough of Him.

 

I want to look at some verses in Nehemiah to show how the people responded to God’s Word. It is so beautiful. If you have time, look up Nehemiah 8:1-12. Here enters a new character in Scripture in the book of Nehemiah. His name is Ezra, which means helper. He begins reading the Book of the Law of Moses right in the middle of the street. Verse 2 tells us that all who could hear with understanding were there listening, this included men, women, teenagers, and children. They were attentive (v. 3). When Ezra opened up the book, the people stood up. This was a posture of reverence for the Word of God.  Verse 6 is so beautiful, “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”

 

They first stood for God’s Word then God’s Word merely brought them to their knees; a beautiful response to the hearing of God’s Word.

 

While Ezra was reading Scripture, not everyone understood it at first. For some this was a time of rediscovery of God’s Word. For some this was the first time hearing God’s Word. Verse 7 shows us that there were Levites in the crowd helping people make sense of God’s Word and explaining it in further detail to them. All the people wept when they heard the words of the Law. Did you read that? ALL! They all wept! How powerful God’s Word is!

 

Ezra tells them not to weep or mourn, do not be sorrowful for this day is holy to our Lord. The joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10). The people went away greatly rejoicing because they understood the words that were declared over them (v. 12).

 

I know personally when I am weeping after reading God’s Word it’s because I’ve seen how sinful I’ve been and how merciful He is, bringing me to my knees. These people were receptive and attentive to God’s Word. They wanted to hear it. Their lives were changed this day after hearing the Word. Only God’s Word was presented. So simple yet so complex.

 

I’m fearful that in our churches today we are looking for entertainment. When we come to church focused on looking to Jesus instead of looking to be entertained, we will then realize He is all the entertainment we will ever need. The same is true in our daily lives.  A life lived with Jesus is the most exciting life you’ll ever live. Each day is a new adventure with Him. Get in His Word. Dive deep into His Word.

 

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) This doesn’t say Scripture is given to make me feel good and happy. It’s for reproof, correction, and instruction. If I’m honest, I don’t want to be corrected. But correction from God is sometimes what we need. How are we responding to correction from God’s Word? Are we bowing down in reverence to the Lord and falling to our knees, or are we putting up a wall of pride?

 

The author of the book, “Missional Motherhood”, gives a description of how we come to God’s Word. We view it like a vending machine. We just come to it for a little snack, when we just need that “pick-me-up”. But what comes out of those vending machines? Junk. Sure, it may fill you up for a little while, but after you’re constantly filling yourself up with junk, it doesn’t do your body any good. We take a machete to God’s Word missing Him altogether because we cut up God’s Word to find what we want it to say about our current situation.

We shouldn’t revolve God’s truth around our lives. Our lives should revolve around God’s truth.

 

“I love that it was the simple opening of the Word that drew such a gathering  and aroused such a dynamic response of worship. Oh, the simplicity. The Israelites weren’t looking to be entertained, checking their watches to see if it’d hit noon yet. They weren’t critiquing the song selection, examining the children’s program, or bummed that this week’s drama didn’t top the week before’s. I am not taking a shot at any of the many wonderfully different ways we do church. I’m just wondering how many of us would show up for only the reading of the Bible. Is God’s Word no longer enough?”-Kelly Minter

 

May we fall in love with God and His Word and let it consume us from the inside out.

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I’m Bored With Christianity

I’ve been there. It’s not a fun place to be. You go through the motions. You go to church. You read your Bible. You go to bible studies. Nothing.

Coming from someone whose husband is a pastor, no one is immune from this. Yes, even those in ministry.

Something was missing…or rather Someone. The Holy Spirit. I can’t speak from a place of perfection and I’ve-got-this-whole-thing-figured-out. The Holy Spirit has shown me I haven’t relied on HIM.

I am currently reading a book by Charles Stanley called The Spirit-Filled Life. I highly recommend it.

I am going to use Dr. Stanley’s words, “Ask the Holy Spirit to stir up your curiosity.” If we’re “bored” it’s because we’re not aware.

Our awareness of His activity and presence is what needs to change.

Is the Holy Spirit mentioned in your church? How can you follow someone who is not known or mentioned? The Holy Spirit is a PERSON of the Trinity. He’s not an “it”.

“We’ve become so unfamiliar with His ways that we miss His presence.” -Dr. Stanley

If we think the Holy Spirit is a power or force, we will view Him as some sort of divine energy. Um, I’m raising my hand right here because that’s how I saw Him!

The Holy Spirit is defined as having knowledge, will, and emotion.

Knowledge-

1 Cor. 2:11-12- “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

Will-

1 Cor. 12:11- “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”

Emotion-

Eph. 4:30- “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this last verse and never thought of it as an emotion of the Holy Spirit.

He can become grieved, exemplifying emotion.

Take a look at this verse:

John 14:26- “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

He is our greatest help. He is the Helper. He is the one who teaches us and reveals scripture to us.

If you’re at a point in your Christian walk where you’re bored and there’s no revelation from God’s Word, ask Him!!

I love meeting with believers and singing together. I LOVE bible study. But the daily divine interventions when He reveals himself to you in your daily life, nothing can compare to His presence.

He tells us He will never leave us or forsake us. We know that. But have you experienced His presence? Does what you know resonate with how you live? Nothing is more exciting than the Holy Spirit revealing Himself to me.

*some notes taken from The Spirit-Filled Life

My Son Is Not Defined By A Label

My son has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and anxiety. If you don’t know what ODD is, it’s oppositional defiant disorder. Before you judge me and think, “you just need to get your kid under control”, he can’t control it. That’s why we’re in behavioral therapy, which has been a great catalyst for him. I’ve seen him mature and grow over the past few weeks of therapy.

Basically when my son feels something, he REALLY feels it. So, when he’s angry, he’s REAL angry. When he’s loving, he’s REAL loving. When he’s excited, he’s REAL excited. 

But that is the beauty and reality of this road we have been chosen to walk alongside him as he discovers how to depend on God: HE IS REAL.

Some days he’ll wake up at 5:45 full of energy and ready to go. GO BACK TO BED! But he can’t control it. My son is fearfully and wonderfully made. I would not change him and the way he is for a second. He is full of life. 

I feel judged…a lot. I feel like a failure…a lot. And as much as I hate to use the phrase, “I feel…”, it’s just the truth. I know I shouldn’t let my emotions dictate my outlook, but if I’m honest, some days I let it get the best of me. 

Rather than people understanding, they compare. THAT IS THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO WITH SOMEONE WITH ADHD. Child or adult. Don’t ever compare them to another child or another adult who does not have ADHD because they don’t have a chemical imbalance that they’re trying to overcome on a daily basis. 

We have homeschooled for the past year and a half, and getting these “results” from the pediatrician solidified my exhaustion and difficulties in homeschooling my son. He is also the most social child I have ever met, so you can see where this has been a struggle for both of us. 

I want to bring awareness to those who do not have a child with ADHD. For the tired, exhausted parent – I mean, what parent isn’t exhausted?! – please offer grace to these children and parents. As Bob Goff states, “Grace seems unfair until you are the one in need of it.” 

I have been so thankful for two friends specifically who have children with the exact same “diagnosis” who have offered me grace, encouragement, and advice. They’ve been there to listen to me vent, cry, and complain. Yes, I’m not proud of those moments. They have helped me more than they will ever know. 

I need to be surrounded with these people.

Not people who will judge and compare my son to their child. Every child is uniquely made, and I’m so thankful God chose me to be his mommy. Sure, it’s been a challenge. But, through it all, I can say God has humbled me like no other through this! 

Before I became a mother, I judged. Yep. I said it. Not proud of that, either. I would see a mom in the store with her screaming kid. “Just take him out already” would be my thought. My mom was in the store one day. While on the phone with her, I heard a child in the background. I told her, “Mom, don’t you judge that momma!” And my mom totally gets it. 

That momma is trying her best to hold in those tears in public. All she is trying to do is get in and get out…just like you. You never know what someone is going through or what obstacle a child is trying to overcome at that moment. 

Now, instead of judging, I go and talk to that mom. I offer any help I can give her during that moment of trying-to-hold-it-together-in-public. 

I do not write this for sympathy or pity. I write this to bring awareness of how you never know what someone is going through and the challenges they are up against. To be a little more graceful to those around you. To be a little more loving and understanding to those around. 

If you or a loved one struggles with ADHD, please don’t ever compare them to anyone else. Know that they are struggling with something they really have absolute no control over…and they’re working through it. 

This diagnosis does not define who my son is. It makes him that much more extraordinary. Seeing life through his eyes changes everything.

Spiritually speaking, we all have ADHD. We get so distracted by the world, we become hyperactive in our earthly lives and our spiritual well-being suffers. We’re looking left and right, getting pulled in different directions, not focusing on the Lord and His ways.

Psalm 119:37, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.”

Psalm 23:2-3, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His names’ sake.”

The only reason why we are able to focus on God is because Jesus never took His eyes off The Father. (Heb. 5:7)

Have you lost your appetite? -Part 1

Are you in a season of life where you’ve lost your appetite for God? For His church? For family? For people? For ministry? The things that used to interest you no longer interest you anymore.

Hannah was a woman who literally lost her appetite.

1 Samuel 1:7, “So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.”

I homeschool my son and one thing that drives me crazy is his constant desire for food. That sounds bad as I typed it. But literally all day long, “I want a snack. I’m hungry.” I’m not exaggerating. Our pantry makes a noise, so when he opens up the door I can hear it from wherever I am in the house. Next comes the refrigerator. I hear both pantry and refrigerator door shut. “Mom, there’s nothing to eat!” Ten minutes later, repeat. “Son, what was there 10 minutes ago is still there. The magic food fairy has not yet come to our house to refill our pantry and refrigerator.” (I’m the magic food fairy 🙂 )

Well, in relation to our walk with God and our spiritual growth, the same is true when reading the bible. Now, most of the time my pantry is not empty as he so exaggerates. It’s just that what he wants, the snacks, are not in there.

When reading our bible, there’s always something to take away from it, but maybe not exactly what we were looking for. We are looking for that certain “thing” that we can kind of throw in the face of someone. Do you know what I’m talking about?

We take a machete to God’s Word, thinking it doesn’t pertain to our situation, and miss what God has placed right in front of us. We butcher it up, search it out to only look for the “snacks”, something just to get us by, never filling up on the meat.

Hannah had some“thing” in her face every day. Peninnah. Elkanah had two wives: Peninnah and Hannah. Here we go with the trap of comparison, “Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.” (1 Sam. 1:2) Comparison is the thief of joy! (Theodore Roosevelt) There’s nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9)! This has been going on for a while.

During this time, barrenness was considered a disgrace. It was very important to carry on the name, have descendants, and raise up workers for the field.

For Hannah to not be able to have children, and have someone who could have children, and all of her children right in front of her face every day, I’m sure, was disheartening. Not being able to have children in and of itself is enough to make one lose their appetite. But then see the other woman popping out babies left and right, living in your house, is unimaginable.

“…although the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.” (1 Sam. 1:6-7)

We see why Hannah didn’t eat now. She lost her appetite for food because she was being provoked DAILY! Home usually is a safe haven, but her home was where all of her defeat was taking place. It was right in front of her eyes every single moment of every single day.

What does your situation look like? Have you lost your appetite for God because of someone “provoking you”? Have you lost your appetite for God because of ONE PERSON?! Think about that for a minute.

One person affecting the rest of your Christian life. That one person potentially affecting where you’ll spend eternity because you allowed it. Don’t let ONE person hold you back from the abundant life Christ has intended for you!

Jesus didn’t let that ONE hold him back. He was provoked in the wilderness by the Enemy.

Hannah became focused on what she didn’t have. What is holding you back? What are you hungering for?

Hannah eventually ate. Her situation did not change right away, but she did change, through prayer.

I will be sectioning off this portion of Scripture into a few different blogs. I hope you’re able to follow along through these verses!

Ask.Seek.Knock…ASK!

Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Ask. Seek. Knock. ASK.

If you have your bible, what color are these words? These words are written in red, which means Jesus Himself spoke these words. He is literally telling us to ask Him questions! You may have heard this before from this verse, but this was a first for me; a revelation in God’s Word.

In Exodus, they would gather manna each morning to prepare them for the day (Exo. 16:21). They had just what they needed for that day, nothing more, nothing less. Then it started all over again the next day.

“But I’m convinced that morning is a principle, not merely a time of day. It signified a position of priority, a place of preeminence…But those moments are always more valuably invested in waiting before God, feeding on His Word, listening to what He whispers to your spirit…while your heart is most open and refreshed and able to assimilate truth.”-Priscilla Shirer

So what does that time look like for you? Does it include music? Is it quiet or are kids climbing all around you? Is it in the morning, during the day, at night, during the middle of the night?

Just as our relationship with our children looks different with each one, God’s relationship with His children looks different with each one as well.

The Quest was a bible study I did. As the writer puts it, it’s more like bible study meets prayer closet. This study has been embedded in my mind and my heart since I started it last year.

I want you to think about when you’re getting to know someone. You spend time together and ask questions to get to know the other person. Let’s say you’re going on a walk with a friend, do questions arise? For example, how are you doing? What’s been going on in your life? It’s kind of inevitable that questions come up.

What about your quiet time with the Lord? Are questions coming up?

There’s a difference between questioning God and asking Him questions. (The Quest video session)

When I think of questioning someone I think of an interrogation, trying to get information out of someone. When I think of asking someone questions I think of desiring to get to know them, really wanting a relationship and knowing their heart. So why should our time with the Lord be any different?

“We need to throw the word quiet out of quiet time.” -Beth Moore

Of course we are to sit at the feet of Jesus and His Word and listen to what He has to say to us, but how are you engaging in the conversation with Him?

Obviously we know He cannot audibly speak to us and respond like we would with someone face-to-face, but He speaks to us through His Word, other believers, songs, situations, etc.

It’s really a matter of how well you’re listening.

The gospels are full of questions, questions that Jesus asked and questions directed towards Jesus. If you study these books of the bible and those asking Jesus questions, you can see the difference in the motives between those who truly wanted to know Jesus and those who just wanted to trap and interrogate Jesus (the Pharisees).

In the study, Beth Moore defines the difference between a quest and a trip. I don’t know about you, but when I’m planning a trip there are lots of little details that need to be planned out in advance to make the most of a trip, eliminating any hiccups as much as possible. “A quest is more than a trip. It’s a jury of inquest, investigation. It’s a pursuit; a search.” (The Quest)

In our relationship and walk with the Lord, it’s a quest. But is it something that you’re pursuing? He’s pursuing us for sure.

Are you searching for Him? Is He what you’re looking for or is something else grabbing your attention?

The more you’re seeking out God and His Word, the more questions will arise.

We fear studying something deeper because there might be something that comes up that we don’t know the answer to…and we might not ever know the answer. That’s the great thing about a mystery!

But if we’ve mastered something, there’s no more mystery in it. (The Quest Study)

I used to read Nancy Drew books and play a Nancy Drew game on the computer when I was younger. When I’d get a clue and it’d lead me closer to solving it, I was so drawn and wanted to continue playing. I couldn’t get enough of these games and these books.

When you have glimpses of Jesus, and He shows you a “clue”, you’ll want more of Him. You’ll continue to seek after Him and pursue Him.

My fear for the Christian church is we have Christians who have never truly tasted that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8), they’ve never had “clues” that draw them near to Christ to continually want to seek Him out.

I just want to challenge you to search your heart and see what your heart is really seeking. Get on board with a quest (a pursuit, a search) with the Lord and ask Him those questions that have been lingering in your heart.

Praying with expectancy

My family and I were on vacation last week at the beach. A brief rain shower came through while the sun was still shining. It was the perfect condition for a rainbow. My daughter and I waited for the rain to stop before walking down to the beach. Rainbows have always been my “thing”. It never fails that when we are at the beach I see a rainbow.

So, as we were walking, we were praying, “Lord, show us a rainbow. We are expecting it.” You can imagine my disappointment when we walked down there and did not see a rainbow. We even walked on the bridge to get an aerial view of the sky. Still no rainbow. I wasn’t taking no for an answer.

So we stepped off the bridge and starting walking down the beach, still looking up in the sky for the rainbow. Nothing. I kept saying, “I am expecting You to show me a rainbow.” Then what do you know, I stopped looking all around and I just looked STRAIGHT AHEAD and there was a rainbow…umbrella!! I said out loud, “I meant in the sky!” Luckily no one was close enough to hear me. Oh, how I love His sense of humor!

But isn’t that just like us in our prayer life? We pray expecting something totally different. I guess I needed to be more specific because after all He did show me a rainbow, just not in the way I imagined.

When we pray, we go into that prayer already have a preconceived thought of what that answer might look like but all the while God has something totally different in mind. Sure, He answers it, but just not how we thought.

We need to pray with expectancy but also with an open mind. Sometimes all we need to do is just look straight ahead.

We often miss what’s right in front of us because we’re looking everywhere else for something else.

That umbrella was there the whole time, I just missed it because my eyes were set on something different.

I know this may sound silly to some, but I hope we don’t miss the point in this story. To not miss what’s right in front of us, that He’s already answered the prayer if we would stop looking everywhere else and just look straight ahead at what’s right in front of us.

James 1:6-8, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

The verses preceding speak of the Christian going through trials and the graces that are produced while going through those difficult times. While the world tells you to be calm during those times, Scripture tells us to have joy (v. 2). The testing of your faith produces patience (v. 4). It flows into praying for wisdom (v. 5). If you lack it, ask for it!

James is telling Christians not to pray for the removal of the trial, but for wisdom through the trial. Guess what the rest of the verse 5 says? That whoever asks for wisdom through this God gives it to them liberally, bountifully, and without judgement or criticism!

It’s very fitting that this next verse uses the analogy of a doubting Christian to the waves of the sea. So here we are at the beach, waves going every which way, and I’m looking for an answer to this prayer.

A doubting Christian can be dangerous. Doubt leads our minds astray to the “what if’s” and the “what could have been’s”.

“A wavering faith and spirit has a bad influence upon our conversations. A double-minded man is unstable is all his ways (v. 8). When our faith and spirits rise and fall with second causes, there will be great unsteadiness in all our conversation and actions. This may sometimes expose men to contempt in the world; but it is certain that such ways cannot please God nor procure any good for us in the end. While we have but one God to trust to, we have but one God to be governed by, and this should keep us even and steady. He that is unstable as water shall not excel.” -Matthew Henry

“You will only live a life as bold as your prayers.” -Beth Moore

Are you praying in faith (v. 6)?

Are you doubting when crying out to the Lord (v. 6)?

Are you praying with expectancy?

Belief takes action…so where are you looking?

Pineapple: a symbol of hospitality

If you know me, you know that I love pineapples. They are probably my favorite fruit. Especially now.

They are used for all kinds of health benefits including immune system support, bone strength, eye health, healthy digestion, anti-inflammatory benefits, blood clot reduction, reduces the risk of a common cold and sinuses, and I’m sure many more. These are just what I found in my research. It has also been proven to induce labor. I can actually attest to this one myself as I ate quite a bit of pineapple the night before my water broke and I went into labor with my daughter!

But they are not just my favorite fruit because of all these awesome health benefits, but because it is actually the international symbol for hospitality.

The word pineapple was derived from a Spanish word used to refer to a pinecone in 1398, so it actually had nothing to do with the fruit until about 300 years later when the word became exclusively used for the fruit. The fruit obviously needs a tropical climate to flourish. Hawaii is the only U.S. state in which pineapples are still grown. Of course other countries grow pineapples, but as for the U.S., Hawaii is about it! (Research from LiveScience)

Hospitality is a theme that God has literally thrown in my face over the past few months, something He’s desperately working on my heart.

I fear for those in ministry that we’ve become accustomed to Christians and Christians only. It’s like we’re waiting for the world to come knocking on our church doors. And as we know, that’s not the case. We have to go to them.

When Paul was saved on the Road to Damascus, he wasn’t the least bit concerned for Jesus, or even looking for him for that matter. He had just left the stoning of the martyr Stephen! No way was Jesus even on his mind. But that’s exactly where Jesus met him. The woman at the well, she went looking for water but left with living water. She wasn’t out looking for Jesus. He was already there waiting for her.

As Christians, we need to move past this mentality of staying in our little “Christian bubbles” where we meet with and host only those that think like us, look like us, worship like us, live like us, etc. When Jesus met me where I was eight and a half years ago, I looked nothing like Jesus nor was I looking for Him.

These were the people Jesus met with: Pharisees, fisherman, tax collectors, the deformed, the sick, the adulterers, the homeless, the refugees, the wanderers, the possessed, and even the unclean. (Jen Schmidt) How about you? Would you welcome this group into your home? Would you send them an invite?

Back to the pineapple. The pineapple was a symbol of royal privilege back in the day (don’t you love that phrase?!). It would only be used as a centerpiece placed above the desserts because it was hefty price just to rent it for the day for whatever gathering was being held!

“The more affluent clients of the bake shop would actually be sold the same rented fruit to carve and share with their guests. Any guest who was invited to a party where a whole pineapple was displayed, knew that no expense was spared in guaranteeing the guests’ enjoyment. It was this that made the crowned fruit the high symbol of social events and became the meaning of welcome, friendship, and hospitality.” (The Story of the Pineapple)

Native Americans would place a pineapple outside of their door when they were welcoming guests. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but even outside of some hotels there will be a pineapple carved on a sign outside of the hotel.

Hospitality has become a lost art in our society. And sadly, a lost art among Christians.

“Who is missing at my table? Am I willing to enlarge the boundaries of my heart to allow the core of the gospel living to include anyone and everyone? Does my table look like Jesus’ table, set for all who are hungry and in need?” (Jen Schmidt)

Romans 12:13 tell us to pursue hospitality. It’s a pursuit. Is hospitality something that you’re pursuing?

So when you see a pineapple displayed, come on in!

Speaking the truth in love: a one-sided statement?

If I’m honest, I’ve heard the statement “speak the truth in love” countless times. And if I’m even more honest, I have no problem speaking the truth; it is in the “in love” part that I do lack sometimes. Okay. I’m not perfect. I know my flaws.

This statement is found in Ephesians 4:15. If we look at the life of Jesus, He always spoke truth. Since He was perfect, it was always spoken in love. He wasn’t worried about offending anyone. He was concerned with pleasing His Father. May we do the same.

Truth is truth. For instance, my son wants the grass to be blue. He has a tiny obsession with blue, to say the least. He can state his case all day long. And while God can choose to make the grass whatever color He so desires, right now the grass is green. So all the cases and claims and arguments he makes, at the end of the day the truth still stands that grass is green.

In Matthew we see several instances where Jesus shut up the self-righteous Pharisees by speaking truth. One instance in particular is when the Pharisees approach Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar in Matthew 22. And actually the leaders of the Pharisees did not have enough courage to come in-person. They had to send Herodians, those of King Herod, because they were part of the pro-Roman politics.

“What do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matt. 22:17)

They think they have Jesus in a trap by asking this question.

“Had He simply replied that it was lawful to pay tribute, they would have denounced Him to the people as one who dishonoured the privileges of Israel, and considered the children of Abraham no longer free, but subjects to a foreign power.

Had He, on the other hand, replied that it was not lawful to pay tribute, they would have denounced Him to the Romans as a mover of sedition, and a rebel against Caesar, who refused to pay his taxes.”- J.C. Ryle

The Pharisees thought this was a simple yes or no question. But then Jesus responds. “Show me the tax money.” (v. 18). He asked why they were testing Him and actually calls them hypocrites (an actor under an assumed character, stage player, a dissembler; Strong’s). He asks whose image is on the coin. It was Caesar’s image.

Jesus just reversed the entire situation on them. Rather answering a fool according to his folly, he tells them to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and render to God the things that are God’s. God’s Kingdom is not of this world.

“But God governs history, and temporal authority exists only because he has willed it thus. Sovereign and final authority remains that of God. The State can require only our money and our services, never our souls-that is to say, the obedience which we owe only to God.” (Layman’s Bible Commentary)

Jesus’ response left the Pharisees speechless. “When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.” (Matt. 22:22) This word marveled means to wonder. Jesus left them thinking about what He just said.

The Pharisees did not receive the truth in love because their motive was not pure in their questioning. Does that mean the truth was not spoken to them in love? No! It just wasn’t received in love. The Pharisees came after Jesus in this situation in order to trap him with their question. Verse 15 says the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Jesus in His talk. And instead Jesus spoke right to the heart of the Pharisees because he perceived their wickedness (v. 18).

We need to be yielded to the Holy Spirit. When I hear the word yield I think of a Yield sign. What do you do when you yield? You slow down and let the other car take the lead. Just like in our walk with the Lord, we need to slow down and let Him lead. This is yielding to the Holy Spirit. I would rather be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit than concerned with pleasing others.

We have to look at the reverse of this original statement, what about receiving the truth in love? If a person is yielded to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is leading. The truth may have been spoken in love (I’m not saying that it always is), just not received in love. What is the true motive of the heart?

Look at Proverbs 25:12. “Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.”

“A rebuke given in love and received with intent to obey at the right time, in the right place, and in the right way is more valuable than gold.” -Study Bible Notes

Matthew Henry states, “…very graceful and well becoming both the reprover and the reproved; both will have their praise, the reprover for giving it so prudently and the reproved for taking it so patiently and making a good use of it.”

The verse right before this is, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Beautiful.

May we have the discernment when to speak the truth…and in love. May we pray for the receiver to have discernment as well to receive the truth…and in love.