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Life Reference: John 8:31-32, 43-45

Focus Verse:

“That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee” (Proverbs 22:21).

Before giving testimony in a legal proceeding, the witness is required to give an affirmation to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Some version of this wording can be found in the legal system of many countries. To tell less than the whole truth is perjury—lying.

Have you ever heard someone counter truth with a resolute “well, in my opinion . . .” or “I believe that . . .”? It’s as if they place their opinion above absolute truth. There is a danger in this, especially when we are speaking of the Word of God.

Life Reflection:

Why is “the whole truth” so important in our lives?

How does opinion compare to truth?

Satan Is the Father of Lies

From the very beginning Satan’s goal has been to twist and destroy truth. This is clear in his interaction with Eve in Genesis 3. By adding just one small word he changed truth into a lie. It was his nature to do this. John 8:44 says,

“Because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

We are constantly being warned of scams, which can sometimes dupe the intelligent as well as the gullible. A scam is a trick or swindle dressed up to sound like truth. It may be a legitimate-looking email, a phone call, or even a personal encounter, but the intent is to deceive and steal from us. It is important to learn how to distinguish between truth and a slick lie. An abundance of words stated with great passion does not necessarily mean something is true.

Life Reflection:

What are some of the current scams that are being used to deceive people?

Do you know someone who has fallen for one of these false schemes?

Why do you think they were deceived?

While we need to be careful with our personal business to make sure we are not taken in by some deceptive story, we must also be careful to recognize truth from falsehood in understanding God’s Word. We are warned of this in II Corinthians 11:13-15.

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

How to Determine Truth

How do we determine if something is certain truth, an opinion, or deliberate deceit? We must ask ourselves a few questions.

  • How reliable is the source?
  • Does this align perfectly with the Word of God?
  • Have I sought God for His direction and guidance on the matter?

A Look at Truth

John 17:17  – God’s Word is truth.
Psalm 117:2 – Truth is eternal.
John 8:32 – Truth sets us free.
Ephesians 6:14 – Truth is part of our armor.
John 4:24 – Worship and truth are joined together.

 

Life Reflection:

How do we distinguish between the truth and false doctrine?

Life Response

Truth is not negotiable or open to discussion. When we become careless with truth, supplanting it with personal views and opinions, we are in effect aligning ourselves with the father of all deceit. We cannot allow ourselves to compromise truth. This not only endangers our own souls, it also jeopardizes the souls of our children and future generations. Our mandate is clear—embrace unadulterated truth and pass it on to the next generation.

“We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done . . . that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children” (Psalm 78:4, 6).

Life Reflection:

What is our personal responsibility in imparting truth to the next generation?

Truth is unchanging and eternal. It is ours to cherish and pass on. Hold it tight.

My Prayer:

Lord, give me the discernment to recognize truth and not be deceived by any of Satan’s tactics. Help me to embrace Your truth wholeheartedly and to make it my personal mission to pass it on to the generation which follows.

More Life with God References:

Psalm 86:11
John 14:6
John 17:17
II Timothy 2:15
II Timothy 3:16-17

 

This Bible study was adapted from an article originally published in Reflections Magazine.

Life Reference: Luke 10:38-42

Focus Verse:

“But Martha was distracted . . .” (Luke 10:40 NKJV).

The car was slightly ahead of me and one lane over. Or, rather, it was one lane over part of the time. The vehicle would drift over the line to the right and then back to the left. Right, left, and right again. The driver’s disregard for lane markings was unnerving to those of us nearby. Was the driver drunk, I wondered? It was still early in the day. Then I realized the more likely answer—he was distracted by his cell phone. It was endangering all of us.

A distraction is something that takes our attention away from what we’re supposed to be doing. We are not engaged in what is happening around us. It interferes with our concentration and focus. Distractions can be dangerous, like the 65-mile-per-hour weaving car that day. Some distractions are not as dangerous—like picking up a magazine to dust the end table and instead sitting down for thirty minutes to read that magazine. Admit it. We’ve all been distracted—many times.

Life Reflection:

What are some of the distractions you have noticed in your life?

Have any of your distractions placed you or others in danger?

Spiritual Distractions

If we are easily distracted in our everyday lives, isn’t it also true we may be easily distracted in our walk with God? Look around some Sunday morning. Is anyone sneaking a quick look at email or sending a text message? Do we sing praises while on “automatic mode” as our mind wanders to a multitude of other things? Such distractions keep us from thinking deeply about the Word of God being preached. We are present in body but far away in thoughts and spirit. Distractions can be dangerous to our eternal souls.

Satan loves it when we are distracted. It makes his work easier. That’s why we must always be on guard.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”

(I Peter 5:8 NKJV)

Life Reflection:

What are some of the distractions you have noticed in your spiritual life?

What are the causes of spiritual distractions?

Are there any worldly distractions that you need to repent of and lay aside?

We are not all distracted by the same things. Samson was distracted by a relationship with a Philistine woman (Judges 14:5). Demas was distracted by the culture around him (II Timothy 4:10). Martha was distracted by household tasks (Luke 10:40).

Life Response:

Not everything that distracts us is sinful. The same cell phone that keeps us from concentrating during the sermon or our prayer time also connects us with loved ones, helps in an emergency, and keeps our calendar. Hobbies can rob us of time if done to excess, but they can help us relax and unwind. Cooking and cleaning are necessary but must not crowd out time for relationships. Distractions will come, but if we are alert to them we can minimize their impact.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV)

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Look at the list below to determine the distractions that most impact your spending quality time with God. How can you control these diversions?

  • Media and entertainment
  • Technology
  • Relationships
  • Recreation
  • Work
  • Hobbies
  • Money and possessions
  • Worry and fears
  • Everyday routine
  • Pleasing others

Ways to Overcome Distractions  

We will all become distracted at times. We are only human. However, there are some things we can do to minimize distractions, especially those that interfere with our personal devotions. Here are some tips to help you lessen the distractions and enjoy your time with God.

  • Minimize distractions by setting a time and place.
  • Remove temptations.  Leave your phone/electronics in another room.
  • Ask God to help you focus.
  • Write down any distractions (errands, worries, etc.) for later.
  • Read and meditate on the Word first.
  • Keep a prayer list or journal.
  • Pray out loud.

My Prayer:

Lord, I come to you with all my busyness and the things that distract me when I’m with you. Let my focus be on You and You alone. Convict me of any sin that has taken my eyes from You. Help me to commit my problems, worries, and fears to You that I may bask in Your presence without distraction.

More Life with God References:

Proverbs 4:25-26
I Corinthians 7:35
Philippians 4:6-8
Joshua 1:8

This Bible study was adapted from an article originally published in Reflections Magazine.

Life Reference: John 11:1-44 

Focus Verse:

“This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4).

 

Have you ever cried out, “Where are You God? I need You now!

This is what happened with Mary and Martha in John 11. Their brother, Lazarus, lay sick. Jesus is their friend, so they send word to Him of the situation. He sends back the message, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God” (verse 4). Despite what seem encouraging words, Lazarus dies, and Jesus waits two more days before finally starting toward Bethany.

We know the end of the story—Jesus calls into the tomb and the bound Lazarus walks out, restored to life after four days. But Mary and Martha only knew the reality of that moment. Their brother was dead and now lay in a tomb. Where was Jesus?

We can imagine the questions that must have gone through their minds? “Why didn’t He come? Doesn’t He care? Didn’t He say that my brother would not die?” Their emotions would have gone from hope when they sent the messenger, to worry when Jesus delayed, and then to disappointment and despair when Lazarus died.

 

Life Reflection:

Have you personally experienced a time when you felt Jesus did not answer your prayer?

What thoughts and emotions went through your mind?

 

Have you faced the same emotions and questions when problems overwhelm you? In desperation, you cry out to God, but nothing seems to change. Where is He? Doesn’t He care? Is He ignoring my prayers? Perhaps you felt perplexed, lonely, disappointed, or forsaken.

 

Life Response:

All of us have faced times when we felt our prayers were not being answered. We may feel like Job when he was facing the most difficult time in his life. Listen to his words in Job 23:7-8.

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him; he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him.”

It is at this point that Job’s trust in God becomes evident. Although God seems to have hidden Himself completely, Job is able to declare, “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (verse 10). We also need to trust that God will bring us through our difficult situation.

Is it possible we felt our prayer was unanswered because God did not step in when or how we thought He should? We may not always see the complete picture when in the midst of a problem. Only later can we look back and realize God’s hand was upon us the entire time.

There are many reasons God delays His answer or does not respond as we wish.

  • He may have protected us from a bad situation.
  • He may be sending us in a new direction—one which we would never imagine.
  • He may orchestrate a divine appointment we would otherwise miss without the delay.
  • He may replace our “good” plan with one that is much better.
  • He may be using the problems we face to transform us into His likeness. (Read II Corinthians 3:18 and I Peter 4:19.)
  • His work in our lives can become a testimony to others. (Read John 9:3 and II Corinthians 4:8-10.)
  • He knows how much we can bear and will make a way of escape. (Read I Corinthians 10:13.)

 

Life Reflection:

Has there been a time when God’s delay was actually for your own good?

What lessons did you learn during the waiting process?

 

Whether four days (like Lazarus), four months, four years—or never—we must trust His plan is for our good. Faith says that God can do it, but trust holds firm when He does not.

Who knows what things He will do in our lives that will ultimately bring Him glory!

Action Points

Don’t stop praying. “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6).

Confess any sin in your life. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18). Also read I John 3:22.

Pray with boldness. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Pray in the name of Jesus. “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13).

Trust God’s love. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3).

Trust God’s timing. Read Hebrews 6:13-15.

 

This Bible study was adapted from an article originally published in Reflections Magazine.