We Know God's Truth through Creation
by Rick Warren
But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! Romans 1:19 (MSG)Â
About 35 years ago, I was at a camp in the mountains. Alone in a room, I prayed, "God, if there is a God, I'm open. If you're real, I want to know you're real. And, Jesus Christ, if you can change my life, if there is a purpose for my life, I want to know it."
You know what happened? I didn't get goose bumps. I didn't cry. No bright lights shown down. Nothing like that.
Yet, still, it was the turning point in my life - because I was no longer biasing myself against God. I wanted to know the truth, even if it was inconvenient.
Truth can be discovered, but first we have to have an attitude of openness that says, "I want the truth more than anything else." Once you choose that attitude, you can discover the truth. How?
First, through creation --
We learn a lot about God, a lot about truth, just by looking at nature. This is why science is so important. It helps us understand God and His universe.
For instance, by knowing that there are 60,000 varieties of beetles, we learn God likes variety. By seeing a volcano, a tidal wave, or an earthquake, we learn God is powerful. From the delicately balanced ecosystem, we can observe God is incredibly organized.
The Bible says, "The basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse." Romans 1:19-20 (MSG)
God will also lead us to the truth through conscience, careful consideration, God's commandments, and through Jesus Christ.
by Rick Warren
Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established. Proverbs 4:26 (HCSB)Â
When you tell God, "I want the truth more than anything else," he will reveal his truth to you in a variety of ways, such as through creation or your conscience and also through careful consideration.
In other words, truth is knowable. You can test it; you can experiment with it; you can prove it.
If I want to go to San Francisco and I follow a map that takes me to San Francisco, and the next week I follow the same map to San Francisco again, eventually I figure out that the map is true.
The same is true of the Bible: If you follow its map again and again, you'll find it to be true. It always takes you where it says it's going to take you. You may not always like where it takes you, but it always takes you where it says it's going to take you.
Often people say, "Why won't God just write it in the sky?" Why would God do that? He gave you a brain. But most people never slow down long enough for such careful consideration. Most people just drift through life.
The Bible tells us, "Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established." (Proverbs 4:26, HCSB)
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)
If I discover truth from the Bible, how do I know the Bible is true? There's a world of objective evidence, both external and internal, that says the Bible is true.
External evidence proves the Bible is a historical book that you can rely on. There are 5,366 copies of the Bible dating from the time it was written to just 70 years afterwards. That fact dispels the urban legend that the Bible was changed as it passed through generations and languages.
External evidence also includes many archeological discoveries. For example, historians used to say that Solomon couldn't have had the horses the Bible says he had because no one had horses at that time. But then thousands of horse stables were found in an archeological dig.
There's also the internal evidence of the Bible itself. In a court of law, a prosecutor with two or three eyewitness accounts has a good chance of making his case. The Bible is filled with eyewitness accounts. Moses was there when the Red Sea split; Joshua was there to watch Jericho fall; the disciples saw the resurrected Jesus.
The internal evidence of the Bible also includes the fact that it tells one story with consistency - though it was written over 1,500 years on three different continents by 40 different authors from every walk of life. No human being could account for that. It's an amazing example of God's abilities.
The Bible says, "There's nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us." (2 Timothy 3:15-17, MSG)
by Rick Warren
Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (NLT)Â
The Bible says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Truth is not a principle. Truth is a person; truth is Jesus Christ.
One of the clearest and best-known statements by Jesus is: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." (John 14:6, NLT)
Notice Jesus says, "I and the truth ...." He doesn't say truth is a religion, or a ritual, or a set of rules and regulations. He says "I." Truth is a person.
This is what separates Jesus Christ from every other leader of every other faith. Other leaders have said, "I'm looking for the truth" or "I'm teaching the truth" or "I point to the truth" or "I'm a prophet of truth." Jesus comes and says, "I am the truth."
A lot of people say, "I think Jesus was just a great teacher." But he couldn't be just that: No great teacher would claim to be God if he wasn't. Either Jesus is conning 2.3 billion people who believe a lie, or he was nuts, or Jesus is who he said he was.
Everybody's betting their life on something. I'm betting my life that Jesus is who he said he was.
What do you do with the truth once you've discovered it? Four things:
1. Believe the truth!
2. Do the truth -- Truth is not just an intellectual exercise; it's something you obey.
3. Stand for the truth -- The Bible tells us our responsibility is to never oppose the truth but to stand for it at all times.
4. Spread the truth.
The Bible says, "Let everything you do reflect your love of the truth and the fact that you were in dead earnest about it." (Titus 2:7) There's a lot in the Bible that I don't understand and that makes me uncomfortable. But the fact is, it is the truth. It is a map that always takes me where it promises.
"Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!'" (John 14:6-7, NLT)
Then Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up. "There's a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?" John 6:8-9 (NLT)Â
Whenever you have a need, acknowledge your faith by planting a seed. In other words, take your focus off your need and look at ways you can provide for the needs of others, planting a seed in their lives.
This isn't easy; it goes against our nature; it's totally illogical. If I'm out of money, I'm probably going to think, 'I can't give away any money?' Or, if I'm out of time, I'm probably going to think, 'Why should I spend more time on something else?' Or, if I don't have any energy in a relationship, I'm probably going to think, 'How can I give more energy away?'
Yet, God says this is exactly what demonstrates faith: when you have a need, you plant a seed.
You can see this principle imbedded in our blood. When you give away blood, you get more blood. You don't end up with less blood; you end up with as much blood or more than you had before.
God often works through this harvest principle, that when you have a need, you give - and what you give away, God replenishes. Faith is like a seed, so it has to be planted - deposited.
Remember the story of the little boy who had five loaves and two fish? He gives them away, and God uses it to feed 5,000 people. Jesus takes what the boy gives; He breaks it; He blesses it; and He uses it.Â
"For the Holy Spirit, God's gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them." 2 Timothy 1:7 (LB)
The first principle for connecting with people is this: Be courageous and take the initiative!
Don't wait on somebody else to connect with you. You must take the initiative to connect with them. This often takes courage. Why? Because when we're full of fear and anxiety, we don't get close to each other. In fact, we back off from each other. We're afraid of being rejected, manipulated, hurt, or used.
This fear is as old as mankind. When Adam and Eve sinned and God came looking for Adam, Adam said, "I was afraid ... and I hid" (Genesis 3:10 ESV). We hide our true selves. We don't let people know what we're really like. Why? Because we think, "If I tell you who I am and you don't like me, I'm have no alternative." So we wear masks and we pretend.
Fear does three terrible things to relationships:
- Our fears make us defensive. We're afraid to reveal ourselves. When people point out weaknesses we retaliate and defend ourselves.
- Our fears keep us distant. We don't let people get close to us. We want to withdraw and hide our emotions. We don't want to be open and honest.
- Our fears make us demanding. The more insecure we are the more we try to control or dominate things. We try to have the last word in a relationship. It's always a symptom of fear and insecurity.
Where do you get the courage for taking the first step in connecting with someone? You get it from God's Spirit in your life: "For the Holy Spirit, God's gift, does not want you to be afraid of people but to be wise and strong [courageous] and to love them and enjoy being with them" (2 Timothy 1:7 LB).
How do you know when you're filled with God's Spirit? You're more courageous in your relationships.Â You love people. You enjoy being with them. You're not afraid of them because God's Spirit is in your life. The Bible says "God is love" (1 John 4:16 NLT) and "Love casts out all fear" (1 John 4:18 NASB). The more of God you have in your life the less fear you'll have.
So the starting point in connecting with anybody is to pause and pray and say, "God, give me the courage to take the first step."
Connect by being considerate
"Look out for one another's interests, not just our own." Philippians 2:4 (GNT)
The second principle for connecting with people is to be considerate of other people's needs.
In other words, if you want to connect with people, you've got to start with their needs, not your own. That's how you make that initial connection. There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "Seek to understand before seeking to be understood."
The Bible talks about this in Philippians 2:4: "Look out for one another's interests not just your own." That is such a counter-cultural verse. Everything in our culture -- from the moment we're born - tends to train us to think 'me first.' As a result, we're all disconnected because we're all thinking about ourselves and not thinking about the needs of other people.
Yet, as I wrote in The Purpose Driven Life, "It's not about you!" The world doesn't revolve around you just as it doesn't revolve around me. You're very special in God's eyes. You were created for a purpose ... but the world does not revolve around you.
Here's another truth -- If you want your needs to be met, first start focusing on meeting the needs of other people. Why? Because God wants you to learn to be unselfish. He wants you to learn to love, to be generous like Him. Colossians 3:13 says, "You must make allowances for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember God forgave you so you must forgive others" (NLT). Part of being considerate of other people's needs is making allowances for their faults.
Dear Abby once ran a letter from a divorced woman. She wrote, "I'm 44 years old. I'd like to find a man my age with no bad habits." Abby wrote back, "So would I." There simply aren't any people with no bad habits or faults. We have to make allowance for each other's faults.
Proverbs 17:9 says, "Love forgets mistakes." It's not that you are blind to someone else's faults; rather, you choose to overlook them. Great friends are good forgetters. They forget the bad stuff intentionally. They don't rub it in, they rub it out.