Tuesday Prayer: Teacher

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 
(2 Timothy 4:8)
Good Teacher, today we praise Your name because even though You are the Most High and Sovereign over all, You also offer Yourself as a Tutor to Your people. You have given us the Word of Truth as our textbook so that we may know You and discern good from evil.  As if that isn’t enough, You’ve also given us Your own Holy Spirit to be our Guide. What a legacy You have bestowed on us in these alone!
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
(Isaiah 30:20)
Our Lord, thank You for giving us these gifts here in this in-between time where we look both backward and forward. In the past, You walked the earth as a Man, fulfilling the promise given through Isaiah that the people of Israel would see their Teacher with their own eyes.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
(John 16:13)
In the present day,  we are thankful for the Divine Presence in the person of the Holy Spirit who continues to instruct us in the Word of Life.  We cannot see this Spirit of Truth except with the eyes of faith. And we do have faith, Lord. Please increase our faith.
But neither of these past or present manifestations of our great Teacher are the sum of Advent. This season, we also look forward to that great Day when all of us who have loved Your appearing will behold with our own eyes the splendor and majesty of the King.

 

With praise and with humble hearts we ask You: Teach us well of Your Truth! Please grant each and every one of us, young and old alike, a driving desire to know You better and an insatiable hunger for Your Word – to study it, to love it, to store it up in our hearts.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
(Psalms 119:11)

Thank You for being a Teacher who is patient with us even as You hold fast to Your truth and for being both firm and kind when You discipline us. We know we can trust You, Lord, for even when You rebuke us, it is truly for our eternal benefit. You alone are good and we know that all that is worthy comes from Your hand, including all worthwhile instruction.

This Christmas, help us to fully realize the incredible Gift we’ve already been given in You our Teacher. May we be teachable, humble before You and patient with others as they learn just as You are patient with us. Teach us to walk in Your ways and to love them more than we love this world. Teach us to love You more, even, than our own lives. May our lives be lived for Your glory, amen!

The Advent of Truth

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
(John 8:31-32)

For the season of Advent this year, I toyed with the idea of revisiting some meditations I penned in the past; dusting off some ideas from an old blog and revisiting them with what I have learned about the Lord in the intervening years. And if you are interested, feel free to let me know and perhaps I will dredge them up after all.

But… as I prayed about what to write, all I could really think about was Jesus. After all, He is the sometimes overlooked celebrity of this story, buried as He may be beneath piles of wrapping paper, parties, and endless strings of lights. For today, let’s put aside all the chaos that we have added to this season and simply take a look at the King of kings as He first came to us, not with great pomp and privilege as royalty rightly should, but as a tiny sojourner wrapped in scraps of cloth whose first bed on earth was a temporarily requisitioned feeding trough. . .

It is no small thing that the Truth Incarnate came into the world in such a humble and unexpected circumstance. On that first Christmas, Truth came as a gift heralded by angels; knowable and yet known by few. Ironically, about thirty-three years later, this same Jesus would stand before a Roman governor who would look Truth in the face and respond in doubt; “What is truth?”

Perhaps Pilate believed, as many still believe, that truth is subjective and not something concrete or unchanging. But that is a lie. Despite what the ancient deceiver would have us believe Truth is knowable. Jesus is knowable. Yet we will not come to  know Him by accident,  nor will we do so without an expense of time and effort on our parts.

So how do we come to know this Man, Immanuel? How do we know Truth?

I think, to illustrate, I would like to give an example of how not to know Him; or rather, how to know a portion of the truth without knowing the whole.

Perhaps you have seen something along the lines of this floating around on social media:

It is time to elect a new world leader, and only your vote counts. Here are the facts about the three candidates.

Candidate A.
Associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologist. He’s had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.

Candidate B.
He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening.

Candidate C.
He is a decorated war hero. He’s a vegetarian, doesn’t smoke, drinks an occasional beer and never cheated on his wife.

Which of these candidates would be your choice? Decide first… no peeking, then scroll down
for the response.

————————————————————-

Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Candidate B is Winston Churchill.
Candidate C is Adolph Hitler.

That sounds compelling, doesn’t it? However, while there may or may not be some fact to these descriptions, not a single one of them contains the whole truth.

To be perfectly honest, I am woefully ignorant of the lives of FDR or Churchill. I know nothing about the former president. And despite my good intentions, I only made it through a couple of chapters of Churchill’s famous biography, The Last Lion, but in that portion I did read that he was a sickly child and as an adult would often nurse a single drink for the better part of a day in order to appear to be a “manly” drinker.

But after reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer, I can tell you that the facts about Hitler are only a tiny slice of the picture; a piece of the puzzle lifted out of context of the complete life of the man to prove a silly and useless point. To  know the whole truth requires a little more effort, but it gives you a more complete portrait of the man.

For one thing, Hitler was only a vegetarian later in life due to severe stomach trouble. Although he may never have cheated on his wife, he scarcely had the opportunity. Hitler and Eva Braun, his long-time mistress, were married for less than 48 hours before committing a double suicide in an underground bunker near the end of World War II.

As far as morality goes, besides having mistresses it is also true that a younger Adolf had an extremely jealous and possessive relationship with his niece, Geli Raubal, who later was found dead by gunshot in her room and ruled a suicide. Besides these things, he was also responsible for the breaking of many treaties, millions of deaths, and horrendous persecution of the Jewish people.

In that solitary  and far-from-complete example, it is easy to see how misleading a picture one can acquire from a partial truth.

In the same way, we cannot rely on social media memes, snippets of Scripture, or the opinions of others if we want to acquire an accurate portrait of Jesus Christ.  By His own statements, to know Him is to know the Father, and in order to know  them well, there are absolutely no shortcuts to reading and understanding the full counsel of the Word of God.

The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
(Psalm 119:160)

That, my friends, requires time, dedication, prayer, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. If you truly want to know the Truth, you must read the Word of Truth and be guided by the Spirit of Truth.

Today I find myself fascinated that my incomprehensibly great God is all these things: the God of truth, the Word who was in the beginning, the Truth, and the Spirit of Truth.  Check out Isaiah 65:16, John 1:1-14, John 8:28-32, and pretty much all of John 14-17 for more insight on His truth. I would love to hear how you are experiencing the Word of Truth this Advent season!

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
(John 17:17)