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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Which Tree Will You Eat From?

The decision that tempted Adam and Eve is the same decision we all must make. Which tree shall we eat from—the tree of Life or the tree of Knowledge? Of course, many of us make no decision at all between Life with Jesus verses Knowledge of Jesus. And maybe that’s because we don’t realize there’s a decision to make.

Those who choose the tree of Knowledge includes people like me, who love reading books about Christianity, always chasing after new insight. It can also include people who go to seminary and get a divinity degree, with their heads now crammed full of Biblical and theological facts, histories, and commentaries.

But what about those who choose Life? This choice is always available to us, even to those who first choose the tree of Knowledge. I’m so grateful we can always change our minds. In choosing Life, we’ll find what we seek in only one place, the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus. The fruit of the tree of Life is the fruit of the Spirit, for the Spirit is life.

The way of the Spirit does not rely on knowledge, but rather on love and surrender to the leading of the Spirit. True Christianity is not about knowledge, but rather about an intimate relationship with the Spirit of Jesus.

We find true life when we put down the book, quiet our minds, close our eyes and heart to the world, and look inside for Jesus who lives within us. And He will help us sweep away the clutter of life and knowledge so we can more clearly see Him.

Oh, books and sermons and such sources of knowledge are good, but only when they lead us to the Holy Spirit. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is meaningless, a mere chasing after the wind.

I don’t mean to demean reading the Bible or any other form of Christian study. But the value won’t come while trying to understand with our own human wisdom. The real value in learning comes when we read and listen through the Spirit within us. And only then will the Spirit open our eyes and minds to the true meaning and value in the printed and spoken words. The Spirit of Truth will guide us into the truth. Let me give you an example.

I just finished reading a chapter in the book “Abide in Christ,” by Andrew Murray. I’ve read this book three times before, and never saw the truth that I saw today. And the truth I’m referring to isn’t solely in this one book, for it’s also clearly spelled out in the Gospels. Jesus himself states this truth, in words that could not be any clearer. But I’d never see that truth, it never sunk into my thick head, until today (I’ll probably write a post about this particular truth sometime soon).

Anyway, I believe I finally saw that truth because the Spirit of Jesus opened my mind to it. And it left me wondering—what other clearly defined truths have I been blind to in the Bible?

Are you looking for something more than head-knowledge of Jesus? Just look inside yourself, and let the Spirit of Jesus open your mind and show you the way. As he said: “I praise you, Father, … because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned.” (Matthew 11:25) And, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” (v. 29)

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)


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The Parasite

On some days, the parasite seems to slumber, not stirring up trouble. But other days, it squirms in his stomach, making him nervous and tense. When awake, the damn thing is always hungry, eating at him from the inside. Oh, it’s not killing him, but it’s not good for his health, that’s for sure. And people often see the impact of the parasite’s presence, though they don’t realize where the negative behavior is coming from. They just think it’s part of his personality. Besides, he doesn’t appear much different than other folk. Actually, he’s not.

But lately, he’s very aware of the parasite. Though he now knows it’s always been there, for much of his life, he didn’t recognize it. But the past several years, he’s spent a lot of time dwelling on his constant companion, studying it, learning about it, even reading books about it. After all, it’s good to know your enemies.

He’s learned how the parasite affects his life too, always in negative ways. Mostly, it affects his mood and feelings and how he reacts to other people. Today, he’s pondering how the presence of the parasite affects his ability to love. Maybe a strange thing to think about, but it was just an idea that popped into his head. And he hadn’t thought before of how the ever-hungry parasite might also have a taste for devouring love.

Speaking of love, this latest round of musings began when he started thinking about his ability to generate and express love for others. He sees and feels something of a love speed limit, like there’s only so much love he can give. If he’s able to stir up more love, the parasite is there to consume it and keep any extra from wrestling free and escaping out to others in his life.

He’s able to give love to his wife and children, and most of his family (except for the strange cousin and the wacko nephew), and a few select friends. Yet he realizes that the amount of love he gives each person varies, depending upon his relationship to them. And after all, he has only so much love to give—the parasite sees to that.

Yet even his more powerful love, which he reserves for his wife and two children, feels weakened upon reflection. Oh, there are times he feels if he loved them any more, his heart would burst. But that’s always triggered by some event, like when they do something that makes him proud, or touch his heart with a tender expression of their own love for him. But that white-hot feeling of love he infrequently feels is momentary, and soon cools back down. And he wonders why. Why does it sometimes feel like he’s holding back love from the ones he loves the most?

Days go by and he forgets about all this love stuff, slipping back to his usual, seemingly carefree life. But his thoughts on love return to haunt him, bringing a deep feeling of failure, failure to give total love to those he loves, especially his wife and children.

Then one day, early in the morning with a cup of coffee in his hand and a good book in his lap, he closes his eyes and meditates on this uneasy feeling about love, that feeling that he’s not loving as much as he could. And in a flash of recognition, he sees it, and knows it.

He sees himself. He has sometimes felt the dual forms of his personality, like the little angel on one shoulder, and the devil on his other shoulder, each trying to influence him. And what he sees, sucking up his limited supply of love, is his little devil, his Self … the parasite. Yes, the parasite has a name, and that name is Self. The selfish, prideful, self-centered, self-seeking side of him that is a fundamental part of the person he is.

The Self is always hungry for attention. And the delight that is its favorite dessert is love. For the more love it can suck up from its host, as well as those around him, the stronger grows its self-worth. And the sweetness of love provides it the most nourishment. Damn parasite.

He wrests his mind free from the parasite, looks down, and reads further in the book sitting in his lap. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Love never fails. But he doesn’t feel it, for his love fails often, and his efforts to give a greater love always fail. He flips several pages in the book, glances down and reads some more. “God is love.”

And then it hits him. God’s love never fails. It’s God’s love that always perseveres. And believing that God is infinite, he now sees that God’s love must also be infinite. So unlike his own limited love. And since God doesn’t suffer from the presence of His own self-seeking little devil always sitting on His shoulder, sucking up gulps of love for itself, there is no limit to the love God pours out upon His children.

Though he feels the familiar gratitude for God’s love, this new insight doesn’t make him feel any better. In a way, it just makes him feel more wretched, as he sees in a brighter light how pitiful his own capacity to love really is.

So he prays, asking God to show him how to love more. And in a flash, the answer comes to him, feeling like the answer was always there, like the book sitting in his lap, just waiting for him to open his eyes and look.

He quickly flips back many pages in the book, looking for the words he remembers and has long craved. And there it is, as John the Baptist speaks of his cousin Jesus by saying, “He must become greater; I must become less.”

And the answer he’s long known becomes sharp and clear in his mind. The more his Self becomes less, the more Jesus’ Spirit within him will become greater. And the more Jesus takes over, the more the love of God and Jesus will push out his Self, his devilish parasite, and fill him with love. All that love pouring into him will then be available for him to pour out to others. And maybe someday he too will be able to love his wife and children, his family and friends with the unlimited love of God, a love that will never fail.

He sees also the answer to being rid of the parasite of pride. He’d often wondered about a cure, or some kind of spiritual surgery to cut it out. Now he sees his freedom comes from letting the Spirit of Jesus in, and Jesus will then push out his parasite of pride.

 

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5)


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To Have the Son of God Living Within You

What was it like for pregnant Mary to know the Son of God lived in her womb, drawing nourishment from her body, growing stronger and bigger every day? We know a little from “Mary’s Song,” in Luke 1:46-56. Drawing from that, and a fair amount of imagination, maybe Mary’s story looked something like this.

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She woke from a fitful night’s sleep. It had been five months since the angel told her she would be with child, God’s child. She rose from her straw bed, her back sore and her feet swollen. Suddenly she felt a flutter somewhere just below her stomach, sending a chill running up her spine.

She’d never doubted the angel, and she’d known she was indeed with child, by the days of stomach sickness, thankfully now passed. And she so easily grew tired. But until that morning, those were the only signs. And then the baby moved within her.

A thrill of nervousness filled her stomach and chest. There was an actual child growing within her, but not wholly her child. It felt somehow foreign. As the days continued striding forward, she felt moments of fear, wonder, and bewilderment. She even wondered if the child would be partly her, as a normal child is part of its mother and father. Or was her body purely a vessel.

The weeks passed. The child was growing bigger and stronger, and oh so active. It woke her in the middle of the night, pushing a foot against a rib, or leaning on her bladder, forcing her out of bed and to the privy, yet again.

Later that day, as she sat in the shade of the house and rubbed her lower back, she was suddenly filled with profound faith, peace, and comfort, excited for every new day being so close to God, so honored by His presence. For how else should she feel, with the true Son of God living within her very body?

She’d believed she felt God’s presence the entire time she was pregnant. She’d often pondered it ever since the angel spoke to her. But for some reason, this day it struck her as much more that belief, but as a certain reality. Her soul wanted to shout out her joy to God, and her excitement and gratitude were beyond her ability to put into words. She felt so truly blessed by God, honored above other people. And that honor filled her with a sweet humility. God had chosen her, a lowly young woman. Why? What love God must have for her to give her such an honor.

As the days continued to go by, some slowly, some quickly, she would find herself suddenly feeling a moment of extreme thrill. Yet most of the time she was simply filled with limitless peace. And she felt that the peace came from the pure, unblemished holiness growing within her.

Then one day, when she knew the time of birth was getting near, she suddenly saw herself torn in how she felt. For as much as she anxiously desired to see the baby with her eyes and hold him in her arms, she dreaded the separation birth would bring. While pregnant, she had always felt as close to God as she thought anyone could possibly feel. She now feared losing that intimacy. But also, because of a premonition that had been lurking in the depths of her mind, she felt a growing dread for what would happen to the child as he grew into a man.

She hid those dark thoughts, for now was not their time. Now was the time to relish in the presence of the Son of God within her, filling her with peace, and love, and grace. She closed her eyes and smiled, looking again to the light of God within her that overpowered all other thoughts.

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We can share in Mary’s experience, in a way. If we believe Jesus’ promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we too can have the Son of God living within us, not as a fetus, but as Spirit.


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To Know the Spirit, First Know the Man

Does God feel distant, and maybe intimidating? How about Jesus? When you think of Jesus, does he feel close or far away, familiar or foreign? And what about the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to send to us?

To get the know and feel close to the Spirit of Jesus, I think you first need to get to know and feel close to the man Jesus.

If you would like to feel closer to Jesus, or are interested in seeing more of his human side, please check out the book, “We Called Him Yeshua.”

 

Today (Sunday, April 26) is the last day the price will be as low as Amazon will allow. So if you’re interested, now’s a good time to get the book.

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/We-Called-Him-Yeshua-Penn-ebook/dp/B0867BYTF7/


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Jesus Is Now

My thoughts and feelings often fluctuate like shifting breezes. And I can’t seem to control where they will go next, especially my feelings.

But there is one thing I can control—where my thoughts are right now. Maybe “now” is a very brief period of time, but I still have control there. And I suspect you do too. The moment after this one should not be our concern, for we often have little influence over it. We should try not to worry about what comes next. But, we can still control our now.

With all the distractions going on in the world around us these days, all the attention-grabbers, all the stress-inducers, all the anxiety-amplifiers, I’d like to invite you to wrest your thoughts away from those for a moment. And if you believe in Jesus Christ and his promises, I invite you to say to yourself right now:

“The Holy Spirit of Jesus is within me now.”

“I rest in Jesus’ presence now.”

“Jesus forgives me now.”

“Jesus saves me now.”

“Jesus is my life now.”

“Jesus is my strength now.”

“Jesus is my protection now.”

“Jesus is my peace now.”

“I am surrendered to Jesus now.”

“I abide in Jesus now.”

Oh sure, shortly after you finish reading this your thoughts may be pulled off in another direction. But, for that moment, as you read the affirmations above, you and Jesus were one, as he and his Father are one—He in you, and you in him. And whenever you want, you can go back there.

Yes, being mindful of Jesus’ presence within you for long stretches of time can be really hard (for me, it sure is). But it’s easy to be with him now.

And think about this: each moment, each now, may influence the next.


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The Power of Easter

There is so much power in the events surrounding Easter, with Jesus’ death and resurrection. And Jesus didn’t take it all with him when he ascended to heaven. He left his power, in the form of his Spirit, here, with us.

As Jesus said to his disciples, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)

I’d been searching for the Holy Spirit of Jesus for years, craving a strong sense of His presence in my life. I eventually found him, but only after I finally knew who I was looking for.

In my search, I felt I knew Jesus the Son of God, having read the Gospels several times, listened to lots of sermons and read many books. But the sense of knowing the person Jesus was still missing. And for whatever reason, as hard as I prayed and looked, I still couldn’t find and feel the Spirit of Jesus within me. But he kept telling me that he and I would be one, as he and his Father are one—he in me, and me in Him.

Then, I decided to write a novel about Jesus, showing him from the perspective of people he had healed in some way. I was just trying to capture how those people felt, having been so close to Jesus, witnessing his power and love. But then, as the book evolved, I saw that it was more than about those people’s experiences of Jesus. It became about the whole person of Jesus—his humanity as well as his divinity. As Jesus called himself, he was the son of man, not just the Son of God.

Anyway, it was on that writing journey of having Jesus the man open up before me that I finally felt his presence in my life, in my very body. Now, more than ever, Jesus and I feel as one. And whenever I pause from the distractions of life and look inside, he’s right there, waiting for me.

I got there by writing this book. It was in the writing that I think I came to know the whole Jesus—God and man. My hope is that many other people can get there by reading the book. Maybe this book could help you too.

If you’re curious, click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. And right now, it’s priced as low as Amazon will allow.