His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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Susan Boyles – a hero just when we need one

Have you seen the video on YouTube? If you haven’t seen Susan Boyles bring shock and awe to the judges and audience of the TV show “Britain’s Got Talent”, then follow this link and I hope you find joy in it… (YouTube video).

I watched for the first time last night, and tears came to my eyes. Not rolling tears, but the kind you can just feel welling up and making your nose sniffle. Then this morning, as I read the article in the newspaper with a bit more information about Susan Boyles the person – the tears flowed this morning. For me, Susan Boyles is a true hero, or rather heroin, just when I need one.

This is not the kind of thing I normally write about, but I am so move by Susan and her story, that I just had to express some of my feelings. The world is a mess, and lately it just seems to be getting messier. Military conflicts, pirates, lost jobs, the grim economy and vaporized savings; it all takes its toll. But then comes someone like Susan Boyles, who for me is a bright ray of sunshine. I think we all need heroes. Thank you Susan for just being you – the best kind of hero there is.

I think that concept of simple heroism kind of caught the judges and audience off guard. We are so used to our hero’s being glamorous, but then someone like Susan Boyles reminds us that it’s the unpretentious hero’s who are the most endearing and captivating.


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Money – Can you always rely on it?

Over coffee this morning, a friend told me about the layoffs that had just taken place at his job. He asked for prayers for several friends who were now out of work – more victims of the crumbling economy. We talked about the condition of the newly-unemployed, and reflected on how much we all tend to rely on money. And that’s what I want to talk about today…

What does money do for you? Off the top of my head, this is what money gives to me:

  • House, plenty of food, health care, toys, stuff
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • If used in the right way, it can help find happiness and joy
  • Sense of security, freedom from worry (about financial things anyway)

What’s it boil down to? What are the key, foundational benefits of money and material wealth? Well, I don’t think it’s the material things that money can buy – those are just intermediate benefits. Those material things contribute to the foundational things, which are all emotional, rather than material, such as:

  • Sense of security
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • Freedom from worry
  • Peace

But as we are seeing in today’s economic mess (and some of us in a very personal way), money is not a very reliable thing to rely on. Here yesterday, and gone today. Upside down mortgages (where you owe more on your house than it is currently worth), vaporized investments, lost jobs – these are the realities of today. And no one is immune, no matter where they are on the corporate or social ladder. Just look at any days newspaper headlines.

Jesus Christ told a parable that I believe can relate to our tendency to rely on money and material wealth for our safety and security.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

To really hear what Jesus teaches us, to have faith in Him, to love Him and put our hope in Him; to put our reliance in Jesus is like building our house on a firm foundation. But to rely on things other than Jesus, like money, is like building our house on sand.

My message for today is this: if you find yourself a victim of these hard economic times, where the ground seems to be falling out from under you, where your financial foundation is eroding away, please try to let go of your dependence on money; that will only lead to despair. Instead, put your reliance on something that will never change, will never go away, and will never diminish. Put your dependence on God.

Just look at the things money can buy, that I previously mentioned: Peace, sense of security, sense of accomplishment, freedom from worry. This is what God brings us as well. As Jesus said…

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

As the apostle Paul once said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

Money may be able to buy you a temporary peace, a peace that can be demolished by external events beyond your control. But as Paul states, the peace that comes from God is something beyond our understanding. The peace of God is not of our world. As Jesus stated in the first verse above, He doesn’t give us a worldly peace. He gives us a peace that cannot be affected by worldly events. He gives us a peace that can stand firm in the midst of economic calamity.

I know; we just can’t understand such a peace. How can we possibly imagine something that we may have never experienced? My advice to you is this: listen to what Jesus and Paul have said. Just accept that this peace which is beyond our understanding is available to you. Just believe.

So during this time of economic upheaval, like nothing most of us have ever experienced before, you have a choice: continue to rely on money for your well-being, as unreliable as money has proven to be. Or shift your reliance to God. Yes, it takes faith, and that may be the difficult part for you. But don’t you think it’s at least worth a bit of your time and consideration?

And for those of you who already regard yourself as Christian, if this economy has you down as well, please take that as a sign that maybe your reliance is more on money than God. You too have a choice.


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It’s not about material wealth

To all those who adhere to what is sarcastically called the “prosperity gospel,” your beliefs are not new. The apostle Paul confronted a lot of people who put too much importance into material things, such as money. As kind of a follow-up to last weeks post on the Prosperity Gospel (see it here), I would like to offer some advice from Paul…

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:5-6)

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others… For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:3-4, 21)

“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 5:5-6)

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

The material is temporary. Money is temporary. But our relationship with God and Jesus is eternal; that’s where our focus needs to be. We need to set our minds on Jesus, and stop pursuing money.